New West Records
Not Many Ho Ho Ho’s, But Pure Quality From the Elder Statesman of Americana.
Baring in mind American music of every hue’s fascination with Christmas Albums it was intriguing to find that Rodney Crowell had never actually made one before.
But, and this is hardly a ‘spoiler’ the wait has been worth it, as Americana’s favourite curmudgeon probably speaks for most of us on the assembled songs here.
As his his way, we are lulled into a false sense of bonhomie with the charming and very tongue in cheek, opening song Clement’s Lament (We’ll see you in the Mall) sung by a Heavenly choir of young ladies; then Rodney enters the fray with the frantic title track, Christmas Everywhere, that lists all the commercial things his family and friends want; but with the added twist of Lera Lynn taking the part of an innocent child wishing for a ‘time machine’ to go back and take the gun away from the man who killed John Lennon. Just as you get your head around the message, Crowell comes back with another extended wish list. Clever and thought provoking message about the cynical world we live in? Most certainly…… but innocence will always win.
While no Christmas Day at RMHQ would be complete without Phil Spector’s album as an accompaniment; but on the run up I do like a sad and blue Christmas song; and there are more than a few here that will make my playlist for this year and more.
Christmas Makes Me Sad follows a long line of beautiful break-up songs dating back to the dawn of civilisation, I’m sure and Crowell somehow manages to keep this, and the duet with RMHQ Favourite Miss Brennen Leigh Merry Christmas From an Empty Bed just the right side of being maudlin and mawkish; as if you ever doubted his writing skills.
While most songs here tread the traditional path, especially the rocking and rolling Very Merry Christmas and When The Fat Guy Tries The Chimney on For Size, there’s one in particular that caught my attention as it has an ‘old fashioned’ melody; and listening to it the second time as I read its story my eyes misted up. Crowell heard his young Granddaughters playing the family piano and asked what the tune was;and they replied it was something they’d made up…… being the canny businessman he is, he recorded it on his phone and then spent several months developing it and some worthy lyrics until it became this beautiful Christmas song. Now I’ve let the cat out of the bag; I hope he shares the royalties fairly!
It’s also no real surprise that several songs deal with the state of the world we find ourselves in as 2018 comes to a conclusion; and of these songs the piercingly observed Christmas in New York, and Bluesy Shuffle, Let’s Skip Christmas This Year plus the razor-sharp Christmas In Vidor are Rodney Crowell par Excellence.
Because this album is what it is; finding a Favourite Song hasn’t been easy; as there certainly ain’t anything you will hear on Smooth Radio or in the Supermarket, but one particular song tugged at my heartstrings more than any other; and while not exactly ‘Ho Ho Ho’, All For The Little Girls and Boys finds Crowell’s daughters accompanying our hero in the early 80’s on what can only be a ‘song of hope and good cheer’ to close the record; and therefore becomes the RMHQ Favourite Track.
Now he’s very much the Elder Statesmen of Americana, in many ways this is exactly the Christmas Album I’d have expected from Rodney Crowell in every note,melody and couplet and I guess I will be playing it a lot over the next few days; but put it back in it’s sleeve at tea time on the 24th of December.
Released December 14th 2018