Review- “Silent Night & Other Cowboy Songs”- Ox

reviewed by Michael

Do not attempt to adjust your computer screens. You are indeed looking at a Christmas album on this blog, and it is indeed by the alt-country group Ox.

You would of course have reason to be skeptical. Probably as skeptical as you were last year when you heard Bob Dylan had released a Christmas album of his own.

But the thing is this album is awesome, especially if you’re one of the jaded cynics who says there’s no life left in Christmas songs. Ox has essentially removed all of the schmaltz from many great Christmas carols and stripped a majority of them down to just a guitar or two and some drums. This lo-fi approach may come off as weird, but weird albums always end up being the ones you go back to over and over again.

The album has twelve songs, ten of which are existing Christmas carols and two songs written by Ox themselves.

Some of the standout tracks in this album are those that really breathe life into old songs. One of my personal favourites is Ox’s version of “Good King Wenceslas” which takes a totally different route from its original version. This version is completely different, sounding almost like a cell phone’s ring tone but not quite. The effect is actually quite magical even without any lyrics.

Another thing that makes this album so great is the vocals. There are so many great vocal harmonies on this album and in case it wasn’t made clear before, vocal harmonies are one of my favourite things ever in songs.

The two Ox originals are great too- “Xmas in the Jailhouse” is the better of the two. It boasts a cool country vibe and is easily the most upbeat song on the entire album.

On top of this, Ox will be on an “Oxmas” tour in December, with stops in Toronto, London, Windsor, Guelph and Sudbury. The tour will also be featuring a slew of special guests at the different shows. At the Toronto show in particular, you’ll be able to catch Brent Randall, Daniel Romano and Andrew Vincent among others.

In short: best new Christmas album you will hear this year. Guaranteed.

Top Tracks: “Xmas in the Jailhouse”; “Good King Wenceslas”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*

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