When it was announced last year Chris Kamara was releasing a Christmas album, you could almost hear music reviewers sharpening their critical knives. Given the ignoble history of both albums put out by former athletes and Christmas albums in general, surely it would be terrible? And that is before we get into Kamara lovably eccentric gaffe-filled reputation as a football pundit. Many thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t and turns out it was okay too. Not to mention very popular. And so now we have the inevitable sequel.

So does this album follow equally inevitable law of diminishing returns? Not really. Once again, Kamara vocally acquits himself well throughout. He may just be doing a Rat Pack impression, but there are many worse examples of that out-there and his delivery is appropriately smooth throughout. In fact, Kamara may have even gazumped Seth MacFarlane in the “surprisingly-good-at-singing-swing” stakes.

The main issues here stem more from the arrangements than anything to do with Kamara. Some songs covered simply don’t fit the swing/big band style, including album opener I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday which sounds very odd robbed of its glam rock glitz. Next we have a rinky-dink version of I Believe in Father Christmas, which equally falls flat.

Just when things look to be heading off a cliff we get a barnstorming big band version of traditional carol In the Bleak Midwinter, which feels like it shouldn’t work but somehow does. One of the other carols here, O Come O Ye Faithful, is less successful. The over-the-top brassy arrangement violently clashes with the solemnity of the words in a way it curiously doesn’t in the former case. Also, there is something toe-curlingly saccharine to the way Kamara sings the chorus line “O come, let us adore Him.”

Equally glutinous is Dear Mr Claus, one of two originals here, a track that is more of a sugar-overload than two desserts after your Christmas dinner, a weird cringey song that imagines a grown man requesting Santa to bring “his baby” back for Christmas. It also features some truly bizzaro lines, courtesy of Robbie Williams songwriters Richard Scott and Kelvin Andrews, including when the near-63-year-old Kamara sings “I doubted your existence from the age of 5 to 34.” I would be curious to know why this age? Presumably, Kamara’s 1991 transfer to Luton Town was top of his Christmas list that year.

We are back on safer ground when Kamara is covering such Christmas pop standards as White Christmas and  The Christmas Song, which eminently suit both his voice and the arrangement. He also makes a pretty decent stab at Blue Christmas, too. The album ends on a high as well, with the much better original from Scott & Andrews, Happy New Year, a suitably upbeat twinkly eyed affair which reminds us we can still make the best of even the worst of times.

It is easy to get grinchy with Christmas records and there is something a little naff about …And A Happy New Year. But then that could be said of all Christmas albums. And while there are some duds scattered throughout, it successfully avoids being a Christmas turkey. You could certainly do a lot worse than sticking this on and letting Kamara’s silky tones backdrop your Lockdown Christmas party.