Vinyl album cover artwork for Only Santa Knows by Delta GoodremOpening on an uber-haunting version of the already spooky Carol of the Bells, it’s immediately clear Delta Goodrem knows what makes the Christmas classics tick.

Fulfilling the cultural contract that says every Christmas covers album begets at least one original, Goodrem’s title track brings near-Bond-theme pomp to Santa’s omniscience, casting the cheerful and beardful character as an inhuman polygraph capable of seeing into the hearts of all.

Those participating in the Little Drummer Boy Challenge this year beware: there is a version here, but its choral arrangements are so rousing it may have you throwing away your shot at the title. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brings the country swing out of its roots. There are sterling collaborations with Gurrumul and Olivia Newton-John. Santa Claus is Coming to Town is so rich you’ll swear Carols in the Domain had come early.

Unlike Australia’s Other Favourite Daughter, Kylie, who sought to reinvent herself with this year’s release, Goodrem is a traditionalist. But within the conventions, Goodrem finds great beauty. Stunningly produced, this might be the last Christmas album you’ll ever need.

Only Santa Knows by Delta Goodrem is out now via Sony.

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