My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Daily Archives: December 10, 2018

Classic Rewind: Travis Tritt – ‘Anymore’

Album Review: Rodney Crowell – ‘Christmas Everywhere’

If you’re tired of every Christmas album containing mostly the same old songs, this is the Christmas album for you. Every song is a Rodney Crowell original, and the mood is neither sentimental nor jolly.

The record opens with ‘Clement’s Lament (We’ll See You In The Mall’, sung by a syrupy sweet female duo, belying the ironic lyric pointing out the contemporary commercialisation of Christmas when “The season starts in August now“. The title is a nod to Clement Moore, author of ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

In the frantic ‘Christmas Everywhere’, a co-write with John Jorgenson, Rodney is a harried father complaining about the competing demands and wishes of all around him (while “Daddy wants a stiffer drink”. The pace shifts midway to allow a slow dreamy cameo from guest Lera Lynn before the tempo increases again but the tone changes again to a newly cheery Rodney embracing all the season entails. A lovely arrangement holds it all together, just about, but this is a very odd confection and definitely not playing it safe.

‘Very Merry Christmas’ is a rock jam with not much in the way of lyrics, which I could happily live without. ‘Christmas In Vidor’, an angry, dark and definitely not family-friendly take on the season in a troubled town in Texas (“that’s ash, that ain’t snow”) with spoken vocals from Rodney and his co-writer poet Mary Karr, is an outtake from the pair’s duet album a few years back. ‘Let’s Skip Christmas This Year’, another Karr collaboration, is rather better, with an upbeat tongue-in-cheek feel.

‘Christmas In New York’ is a downbeat reflection on Christmasses past and a lost relationship. The soulful jazz of ‘When The Fat Guy Tries The Chimney On For Size’ reassures a child that Santa really does exist.

Chuck Cannon co-wrote ‘Christmas Makes Me Sad’ opens with jolly Christmas music, but a downbeat lyric has a newly lovelorn protagonist expecting to

Spend my silent night alone

Also sad is the delicately mournful ‘Merry Christmas From An Empty Bed’, a moving duet with Brennen Leigh as a couple muse separately on the failure of their love while decorating for Christmas:

Brennen
Somehow I thought believing in our love would make it grow
And God knows faith can cover up a multitude of sins
But you wouldn’t let me in

Rodney
She learned to read my lies like tea leaves in a cup…

Now she’ll never know
How much I loved her so

This I excellent. I also very much liked ‘Christmas For The Blues’, another sad reflection on failed romance which is pure country. ‘Come Christmas’ is a simple, pretty song with a folky tune, the latter being composed by Rodney’s young granddaughters Adeline and Iris Brue.

The final track, the playful ‘All For Little Girls And Boys’ was written when Rodney’s own children were young. Three of his daughters sing along.

This is an ambitious and very different Christmas album. Not everything is to my taste, but it’s worth giving it a listen to see if you like it.

Grade: A-