Jesse Terry – Peace – A Christmas Collection
Many new Christmas LPs lack sincerity, poignancy, & the spirit of the holidays. Artists tend to sing well but unlike many of the older artists who recorded these classic songs the special element of the holiday festivity is lost — perhaps because they don’t understand what they’re singing.
In the past, impressive holiday LPs were Johnny Mathis’ & Elvis Presley’s classic Christmas LPs, Mel Torme, Nat King Cole. The oldies. In the last few years, the most memorable new Christmas efforts were by The Florin Street Band (“My Favorite Time of Year”). Then Ingrid Michelson’s wonderful “Songs For the Season,” with revitalized classics.
I didn’t think much about the commercially released Christmas CDs. However, Connecticut-born Jesse Terry’s touch of country holiday chestnuts will invigorate interest with his 20-cut Peace – A Christmas Collection (Drops Nov 19–Wander Recordings).
At first pessimistic, I thought this would be a bombastic country-saturated Christmas outing with sugar-coated tunes. I was wrong. Terry sings delicately. Recorded in a spare style with little intensity, but with lots of feeling.
Nothing’s performed by a prior recipe. Each is delivered to insure these songs have a reinterpreted lifeline. From the first cut “The First Noel,” through each classic Terry adds marvelous touches to enrich the meanings in each.
“Little Child of Bethlehem,” with its sad violin is a little masterpiece. Maybe it’s Jesse’s young voice that paints a vivid picture. There’s little to analyze since the songs are all impressively performed.
There’s no discrimination in Christmas songs. Jesse sings for everyone. It’s a time to begin again. Listen while decorating a tree, hanging a piney wreath, lighting a menorah, or incense. There’s nothing more powerful than 2 opposing people sharing holiday spirit even if it’s “not their holiday.” It’s a universal day with universal music. Made to forgive & forget.
So, Jesse provides a skillful program that is for everyone. Not every new song will have the classic magic – but give them time. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” & Joni Mitchell’s “River” are superb.
The band: Jesse (acoustic guitar/harmony), Eamon McLoughlin (violin/viola/cello/mandolin), Josh Kaler (pedal steel/lap steel/dobro/electric guitar/celeste/mellotron), & Dan Dugmore (pedal steel 3 cuts).
Everyone wishes they were a river they could skate away on. This collection will temporarily be that river.
Color image: Eric Foley Photography. The 1 hour-11-minute CD was produced by Jesse & Michael Terry with Neilson Hubbard. Available @ https://www.jesseterrymusic.com/