I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas songs - from carols, to classic 50s/60s crooner crafting, to pop hits, to the glut of annual artists/bands who join the festive treadmill with their latest commercial interpretations. I love it, to the disdain of my family.
I have my principles and disciplines though. I won’t listen until December, and usually a few weeks in. However, this year I have adjusted that tradition – though adhered to its key principle – as today is the 1st December and I could not wait any longer to listen to Josh T Pearson’s Rough Trade Christmas Bonus release, out since 21st November. This is an extra recording Pearson did as a thank you to Rough Trade for announcing his Last of the Country Gentlemen as their album of the year.
It’s superb. Simple arrangements with Pearson’s signature acoustic playing and intense, empathising vocal. Indeed, the live to tape recording retains studio chat and the overall effect is to sustain a sense of genuine feeling for the music and words. Pearson’s fundamental Christian beliefs add a sense of attachment to this traditional material other artists’ commercial endeavours on the same lack, not that the precepts themselves engage me – it is Pearson’s commitment that does, as on O Holy Night.
There are five songs: Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, the resonant solo vocal of Away in a Manger, O Holy Night, and the sweet O Little Town of Bethlehem.