JD McPherson “Socks” (New West Records, 2018)

Socks‘ sees JD McPherson return to his rock and roll roots for a Christmas album featuring eleven original songs. It’s an album that captures the novelty aspect of the original rock and roll era, when major artists would think nothing of releasing a cornball track – think Chuck Berry and ‘Run Rudolph run‘, Fats Domino’s ‘Blue Christmas‘ or Little Richard jiving up ‘Santa Claus is coming to town‘ – to cash in on those extra seasonal sales to teenagers hyped up on coke and fries. These days for the most part the Christmas album is a little treat for the fans, unlikely to ever spawn that lucrative perennial Christmas mass-market favourite and artist pension scheme.

For all that JD McPherson has approached this album with serious intent – new songs, well recorded and an album he has stated he is proud of. It’s been a well scheduled and planned project, the recording took place in the spring of this year in Nashville and yet it still deliver a powerful whiff of rock and roll tinsel. JD McPherson pings between Christmas love and joy and a balancing slightly jaundiced view of Christmas – ‘Every Single Christmas‘ is a jiving bundle of pleasure, driven along by saxophone and hand claps, and a shot of pure pleasure “Every single Christmas I just fall in love just because I have you here with me“. Contrast that with the pathos of ‘Ugly Sweater Blues‘, which chimes with pity as McPherson begs “Mama don’t make me wear that old thing again / bright red with sleigh bells and a gingerbread man“. ‘Hey Skinny Santa‘ is a grooving swinging rocker which reveals Santa’s diet plan to build up to his full Christmas Eve weight. The title track is a killer slow paced blues about that perfect disappointment of a present, asking “why’d you’d waste the paper on a lousy pair of socks ?” It unarguably makes the case – we might need socks, but nobody wants socks!

JD McPherson has said that he thinks the record is so good that “I believe at least a few people will listen to (it) in the summertime“. Well, good as it is, and welcome as a change to the usual well-worn Christmas platters, that really is unlikely. But if you find yourself hankering over some new old rock and roll Christmas songs whilst you cut a rug cradling your eggnog in one hand and clasping your best gal (or guy) with the other then this is your album.

This is one lot of Socks you can enjoy receiving this Christmas
6/10

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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