Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Django Mack - ‘Round Christmas

Django Mack - ‘Round Christmas 

Music devotees are familiar with the customary glut of Christmas music releases that has long been a staple of the business. It’s usually a safe bet. The better performers choose top notch material and put it over with all of the skill and technique that’s helped them to build successful careers. No one questions the sincerity of such efforts. It’s entertainment and serves a purpose. Sometimes, however, an artist doesn’t restrict themselves to sentimental and hopeful invocation of the season. Django Mack’s latest release, a single entitled “’Round Christmas” is a heavy duty lyrical drama with an elegant, slightly ghostly performance from sharp collaborators who play to Mack’s voice well while never neglecting the arrangement. It’s accompanied by a bonus track called “Big Black Dog” that highlights Mack’s talent for shifting gears.  

The single has persistent and precise drumming without ever cluttering things up with too much percussion. It’s illustrative of one of the central qualities present in Mack’s music. His memorable vocals never attempt biting off anymore than they can chew and the musical backing never attempts to overshadow his role in the performance. “’Round Christmas” hits listeners with the gloom more or less from the first line on and Mack doesn’t bother with allowing the audience any sort of release. The release comes in the form of often beautiful guitar work accompanying his vocal and the delicacy of their performance is another of the track’s highlights. The effects surrounding the lead guitar give it an assertive side when required and the song peaks at just the right times.  

His lyrics for the track will definitely capture the attention of first time listeners who appreciate that sort of thing. Some of the lines and rhymes alike are a sort of inevitability that marks the best songwriting and never seem forced. Like his vocals and the arrangement, Mack doesn’t waste a single word in the songwriting process and everything sounds tuned for maximum effect. 

The second song “Big Black Dog” is a funny romp, but it has musical value. Mack is in high-spirited form from the first line on and his vocal locks in really tight with the vibrant, energetic piano that’s pushing the track forward. Mack has some great backing singers working with him on this song too, but he uses them lightly and thus makes the presence all the more memorable. It’s a great song because it shifts the mood of the release so well, but more so because it shows off Mack’s ability for excelling with very different styles within the same wheelhouse.

This isn’t just some novelty tune for the holidays that you quit playing by December 27th. “’Round Christmas” traffics in much more serious emotion than those sort of songs and has the sort of sharp-eared music that suggests he wants to write and record music that invites multiple listens and more. “Big Black Dog” is every bit as entertaining, albeit in a different mode, and makes a great match for the single.  

Aaron Ellis

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