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Socks: A Rock N' Roll Christmas Tour ft JD McPherson with Joel Paterson
“I’ve always loved Christmas music, especially popular Christmas music from the 1940s and ‘50s,” says JD McPherson. “There’s something classic about that sound. Something that keeps you coming back, year after year.” SOCKS, McPherson’s fourth album, dives headfirst into the world of original holiday music. Written, produced, and arranged by the frontman and his longtime bandmates, it’s a record rooted in the same timeless influences—from 1950s rock & roll to old-school rhythm & blues—that inspired his breakthrough release, Signs and Signifiers, back in 2010. The result is a return to McPherson’s musical wheelhouse, mixing new songs and classic tones with his band’s sharpest performances to date.
“This kind of music has always felt like home for us,” he says. “We love the sounds and rhythms of rock & roll’s early years. That’s the world in which this album lives. We experimented beyond that sound on recent albums, but I’ve learned it’s OK to go back. Fans of our first album are going to flip out.”
It was fellow songwriter Nick Lowe who helped inspire McPherson to pick up the pen and begin writing Christmas songs that were both imaginative and personalized.
“It’s eleven original songs. I think it’s some of my very best lyrical work. The band played beautifully. It was the most fun we’ve ever had in a studio together.”
McPherson is right; the lyrics that fill SOCKS’ eleven songs are equal parts charming, cheeky, and character-driven. More importantly, they’re unexpected. “Bad Kid” explores the holidays from the perspective of a juvenile delinquent, while “Holly, Carol, Candy & Joy” tells the story of a ladies’ man who’s infatuated with four women, all of them with holiday-themed names. In the album’s slinky, sauntering title track, an excited child rips open his Christmas gifts, only to unveil unexciting pair after unexciting pair of socks. “Santa, how could you let me down?” McPherson sings, while his band’s doo-wop harmonies slowly give way to a swirling organ solo worthy of Christmas morning mass.
Like all of JD McPherson’s best work, SOCKS is a wonderful collection of opposites: new compositions inspired by old influences; familiar themes explored with fresh angles; classic sounds reinterpreted by a modern band. It’s the rare kind of holiday album that packs a punch at any time of year.