New West (2018)
If you know me well, you probably know how much I love Christmas music. While it seems that Christmas music can be a source of frustration for many, I have always embraced the warm sounds of songs singing the praises of Santa Claus. I've be curating a playlist of Christmas songs for years now, fine tuning it constantly. Adding new songs, purging ones that don't quite cut it, it's a living breathing organism that I play with every year. This year, I was able to add the best new addition I've found in ages, Socks.
I discovered this album on Instagram. I follow a guitar maker called TK Smith and they posted a picture of this album on their feed. As I picked up on the Joel Paterson Christmas album from them last year, I figured I would check out JD McPherson and see what it was all about. What it's about is probably the best Christmas album released in the last forty years or so. Every single song on this album is incredible and each deserves to be enshrined as classic Christmas songs going forward.
The album has a retro, 60s rock feel to it. The tempo of the Beach Boys mixed with the energy of the Phil Spector Christmas album mixed with the vocal story telling of Gene Autry. It's a conglomeration everything I love about Christmas records. "All The Gifts I Need" has a horn accented swing feel to it, while "Bad Kid" is more of a Ventures-style (though with vocals) guitar track.
I've been debating which song on this album is my favorite and it tends to come town to the title track "Socks" and "Hey Skinny Santa." "Socks" is a wonderful tale of disappointment in opening up the gift you've been waiting for all year only to find footwear waiting for you. "Hey Skinny Santa" is a culinary tour of various cities and foods that Santa needs to make sure he's at the appropriate level of rotundness by the time the big day rolls around.
The thing about this album that makes it special is not only is it an incredible Christmas album, it's an amazing album period. It's easily one of my favorite albums that has been released the entire year. Even though this record will likely be relegated to December spins going forward, I can't fathom not listening to it every year for the rest of my life. It's going to be a new staple of the season and I cannot recommend it enough.
JD McPherson - Socks: