Over the weekend I chose to celebrate Christmas in July by listening to none other than Father Christmas. As it turns out, July 25th is probably the most appropriate time to listen to Father Christmas aka Kyle Alexander Peters. After a few songs, the classic image of the jolly old elf unavoidably resting in my mind morphed into the shorts wearing, sunglass rocking wannabe you see in places much further south than here.
Father Christmas is soaked in the psychedelic folk-pop of the 1970s. The same sun that hippies and cult members squinted at is what Peters is looking up to, this time breathing in a lot more pollution than his would be counter-parts.
Long stretches of the album are covered by a thick haze of reverberation, swirling jams, and harmonies. “Housten St” and closer “Down Yonder” both plod along amongst this combination, the latter changing its tune during the final half of its nine plus minute long epic. The opening minute of the album (in “Dream House / Texas 1986”) spins in the smoke of psychedelia before moving to a fast-paced folk-pop number which includes a trumpet, a highlight through the LP, that punches through any leftover haze.
Where Father Christmas really stands out is when Peters gets to higher ground. The air seems clearer in “Come Here,” thanks in part to a warm cello. Lyrically it also matches this new head space, touching on the importance of taking time to sort things out.
As the LP’s rawest showing of folk music, “Red Son” is also perched atop this high ground. Starting off with a timeless lyric, “A rambling man once said to me, ‘Boy you ain’t nothing if you ain’t free,’” the song radiates thanks to memorable melody and outstanding combination of cello, picked guitar, banjo, and additional vocals from Amy Nostbakken.
Whether travelling across the desert or up on the highest hills, Father Christmas is a gift.
Top Tracks: “Come Here”; “Red Son”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)