"To conclude: The Christmas album is there, but hides discreetly in the choice of songs and little touches of bells and chimes here and there. But it is certain that the darkness is there too trying to take the stage, and that is really fun!
Tarja is having fun on the album and shows once more that her vocal capacity is diverse and flawless.
8/10 - Seigneurs du Metal
"A cinemascope Christmas. And “dark”? Definitely. I didn’t think it was possible to create a downbeat version of “Feliz Navidad” but Tarja does it while still managing to sound awesome."
- David, The Moshville Times
"It’s a fantastic album. It’s not rock or metal, but I suspect that a lot of the fans of that side of her work will check this release out and many of them will enjoy it."
5 stars - Ant May , Planetmosh
"she’s come up with her own fascinating and intriguing take on some very traditional Xmas tunes" 4/5 - RAMZine
"I've heard plenty of music in my life that had me impressed, enchanted, captivated and fascinated. I know albums that push, that push all emotional buttons simultaneously, that are arranged beautifully and so on and so forth. However, I have not expected this to happen in combination. Not LIKE THIS" - Polyprisma
"It’s easily some of her most inspired work post-Nighwish." 8,5/ 10 - Dead Rhetoric
TARJA RELEASES WINTER ALBUM
“from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a dark Christmas)“
ON Out Now ON earMUSIC.
INCLUDING BRAND NEW ORIGINAL SONG “TOGETHER“.
This year, Tarja is bringing the festive season early with the release of her brand new Christmas album “from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a dark Christmas)” on November 17. This Christmas you can expect the unexpected.
The album includes 11 Christmas classics and brings them to a never before seen level, uniquely blending Tarja“s classically trained voice with darker gothic influences. Utilizing the sound of a grand orchestra, the most successful Finnish solo artist puts a sinister spin on traditional songs like “O Tannenbaum”, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad”, reminding the listener of a dark movie score. Besides covering classic carols, “from Spirits and Ghosts” also features a 12th track, the brand new original “Together”. This song is aligned with the dark sound of the album and embodies the theme of ghosts and mysticism throughout, in a brilliant, Tarja-styled manner.
Says Tarja: “Producing a dark Christmas album in the middle of the summer is a very interesting process, especially if you are doing it by the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Significantly different from the snowy Christmas that I am used to in my home country Finland. Another proof that the darkness comes from deep within. On this album, I explored the other side of Christmas. The Christmas of the lonely people and the missing ones. The Christmas for those that do not find joy in the blinking lights and the jingle bells. ”
“from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a dark Christmas)” is going to be released on November 17th, 2017 on earMUSIC as 1CD digipak, 1LP Gatefold (180g, black) and Digital.
The “Official Store for a dark Christmas” offers a wide variety of exclusive, limited fan items and bundles.
The album is produced by Tarja, the American Emmy Award winning film score composer Jim Dooley and British producer Tim Palmer, known for his work with Pearl Jam, U2, David Bowie, Lang Lang and The Cure among others, who also mixed the album at 62“ Studio in Texas. The album was mastered at Sterling Sound in NY City.
This Christmas, gather your loved ones, dim the lights, put on some candles and play Tarja“s “from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a dark Christmas) loud!
“When you are saying the word Christmas what comes to mind is the jingle bells, the happiness, the presents and Santa. I was born in Finland and Christmas is seen there as something very quiet and peaceful and magical sort of, mysterious even and our Christmas traditions are important to us.”
Eleven years after her first Christmas album ‘Henkäys Ikuisuudesta’ Tarja brings us ‘from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a dark Christmas), an album she collaborated on and recorded in the Caribbean on the island of Antigua whilst also penning a brand new song ‘Together.’ “Ever since the beginning of the album production I said I wanted to write one song for this album, because all the rest are internationally known. My song definitely is not a happy Christmas carol, but instead it’s talking about the darker side of Christmas with the lonely people and dark experiences we’ve had”.
This represents a selection of classic and popular hymns and songs, some of which are centuries old but widely known and popular throughout all of Christendom, but with Tarja adding her own dark slant to them that makes them very, very different and surprisingly surreal.
The first release to her admiring fans is the Christian hymn ‘O Come O Come, Emmanuel’ – a haunting, orchestral version first noted in popular culture in its original Latin as ‘Veni, Veni, Emmanuel’ in Germany in 1710 and later translated in 1861. “Perhaps my favourite song (on the album). I really like that very much and cannot wait to get to perform it live, even though it’s not a song where I can show off my vocals, but it’s such an emotional song. My daughter has the same feelings about that song.” The video to accompany this release features an almost unrecognisable Tarja in stunning make-up as she gets to explore her fantasy characters, continuing the themes from her Rock albums once again. The light side, almost white queen if you like, as she alludes to it, and the one that brings you the shadows and the dark. The visuals have been captured by renowned Belgian Rock photographer Tim Tronckoe in a series of promotional photographs that also adorn the vinyl, CD and digital releases.
As ‘O Come O Come, Emmanuel’ features Tarja singing Latin, ‘O Tannenbaum’ written by the Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz in 1824 based on a 16th Century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck features Tarja singing in perfect German – “I was recording my vocals in Antigua together with my friend (German musician, song writer and composer) Torsten Stenzel. He was laughing and said I sound like old proper German while I was singing this song. No one speaks that way in Germany anymore apparently! That was the greatest compliment I’ve heard to be honest. The reason I still can speak and sing a bit in German comes from my classical singing education with many years of living and learning in Germany.”
Undoubtedly one of the most famous songs Tarja has covered on this album, and arguably the oldest dating back to the medieval period, is ‘Pie Jesu’, specifically the Andrew Lloyd Webber version popularised by Sarah Brightman. Tarja’s vocals have been noticeably double tracked. “I sang many years as a mezzo soprano during my university studies before reaching the soprano range and nowadays I don’t get to sing lower songs as a lyrical soprano much, but I have maintained this lower register within the Rock music I do. I have been able to keep it alive. Pie Jesu is eerily low if you sing it in octaves. This was a big challenge for me. Tim Palmer (Pearl Jam, U2, Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Plant etc), who mixed the entire album, made the low vocals sound like lead vocals and that was a huge surprise to me, because you never get to hear this song like this. It’s unbelievable how Tim always makes me sound brilliant.”
‘Amazing Grace’ is also undoubtedly a universally popular and recognised song that Tarja covers on this album, building from an almost a capella with the lyrics published in 1779 by English poet and clergyman John Newton. “I love the instrumental orchestral part towards the end. I wanted to keep the song as orchestral and peaceful as possible. Everybody knows ‘Amazing Grace.’
One of the more surprising and therefore more difficult Christmas songs that Tarja has covered is the Spanish speaking world’s ‘Feliz Navidad’ – the original is the macaronic version by Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano and for Tarja to achieve a darker interpretation was extremely difficult. “I knew that with this song I’ll face a challenge, but I also knew that with Jim Dooley (American film score composer) we could make it completely different than the original one. We definitely needed a completely new approach to the song. It was not an easy job to make it sound dark, but with Jim’s amazing talent, we managed it.”
Also featured on this album are ‘We Three Kings’, ‘Deck The Halls’, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘What Child Is This’ and ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas.’ All will be universally known, but none will have had the inimitable and unique dark interpretation that Tarja delivers on each and every one.
“I am very proud of my 5 years old daughter that sang with me in ‘Deck The Halls’ making it very spooky. She made her record debut and she nailed it in two takes, like a real pro. I like in particular the switch from Major to Minor key in this one.”
“With this album I wanted to approach, musically, the cinematographic sound. Movie scores still inspire me a lot these days. Jim Dooley understood my approach because we have a long history of working together. He has done all the orchestra and choir arrangements for my rock records. He’s super talented and very easy to work with. I had for a long time wanted to make a score kind of an album with him, but never until now, found time for it. This was a great opportunity for us and made me very happy.”
In order of appearance
Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica)
Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)
Marko Saaresto (Poets Of The Fall)
Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius)
Simone Simons (Epica)
Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil)
Joe Lynn Turner
Floor Jansen (Nightwish)
Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian)
Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation)
With Christmas only being 24 days away, earMUSIC and Tarja are proud to announce the release of a very special version of “Feliz Navidad”: the Barbuda Relief And Recovery Charity Version.
This September, the Caribbean island of Barbuda has been hit by the category 5 hurricane Irma. The whole population of 1,800 needed to flee their homes in order to survive. Tarja, who has recorded the main part of her vocals for her recently released winter album ““from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a dark Christmas)” on said island and has a very close relationship to the place and its inhabitants, decided that now is the time to help.
Together with friends and fellow musicians such as Michael Monroe, Doro Pesch, Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Marko Saaresto (Poets Of The Fall), Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), Simone Simons (Epica), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Joe Lynn Turner, Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) and Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), Tarja created a new version of the Christmas carol “Feliz Navidad”.
All incomes generated will be donated, with earMUSIC doubling the amount.
“The tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda has been devastated by Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm recorded in history to sustain over 200 km per hour winds for 24 hours.
Around 90% of the nation’s structures and vehicles have been destroyed.
Irma passed over Barbuda early on Wednesday, 6th of September 2017, as a Category 5 hurricane.
Barbuda is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and forms part of the state of Antigua and Barbuda.
The island is now a near-deserted disaster zone. Almost all of its 1,500 residents were relocated to the sister island of Antigua. Critical facilities including roads and communications systems were ravaged, with the recovery effort set to take months or years.
I have had a home in Antigua, Caribbean for quite a few years now. I have friends there, but mainly, I have seen how the locals live and how unprepared they are for this magnitude of destruction.
I had just finished recording my winter album “from Spirits and Ghosts” in Antigua before the hurricane hit the Caribbean. I was already immersed in Christmas feelings at that time and immediately it came to my mind that the people of Barbuda will have a very dark Christmas this year and in the years to come. I wanted to find a way to give them hope for a brighter future.
So Christmas gave me the perfect excuse to call some dear friends and ask them to help me raise some funds for the people in Barbuda.
We are going to donate all incomes generated from the version of ‘Feliz Navidad’ we recorded, and my record company earMUSIC will add a similar amount on top of it for the charity.
When the time comes, I will personally make sure the donation is given to the right hands.
I thank you all my friends Michael, Doro, Tony, Elize, Marko, Timo, Simone, Cristina, Joe, Floor, Hansi and Sharon from the bottom of my heart. I am very glad and honoured that you could be a part of this. Your voices will give hope and they will be heard.
We need all of you to spread the word in order for fans and music lovers to get to know about this charity project. Is time to get together and to share our passion for this good cause. You can review the music style, production, sound or the performance of the ones involved, but this time the focus should be in a different place.
Dear fans, I really hope that together we can make a change. If you are not used to download music or if you don't collect vinyls, it shouldn't stop you from helping. Do it this time for the people in Barbuda. Please share this song with all your friends and relatives and ask them to do the same.
We wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of our hearts.”
“Feliz Navidad” will be available as download and stream on December 8th, 2017.
Limited to 1.000 copies worldwide, a very special 7inch vinyl single will be made available exclusively via Tarja’s “Official Store for a dark Christmas”.
1. Feliz Navidad (Barbuda Relief And Recovery Charity Version)
2. Feliz Navidad (Album Version)