Album Review :
Dustin Kensrue - The Good Night Is Still Everywhere
Band: Dustin Kensrue
Title: The Good Night Is Still Everywhere
Label: Vagrant Records
Release Date: 11/9/2010 (re-release)
Reviewer: Joshua Hedlund
- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
- Christmas Blues
- Blue Christmas
- Fairtytale of New York
- The Good Night Is Still Everywhere
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
- God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
- O Holy Night
- This Is War
- A Stick, A Carrot & String
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue technically only rereleased his older Christmas album this year with a couple new tracks, but they’re all new for anyone who hasn’t heard them yet. If you’ve heard Dustin’s other solo release, Please Come Home, you should have some idea of what this sounds like. I suppose it’s closest to the Earth volume, but it really showcases a different side of Dustin than you experience with Thrice: simple, open-aired folk songs with a tinge of blues all wrapped in Dustin’s rugged, raggedy voice. Sometimes there’s a light band behind him; sometimes it’s just the man and his guitar.
The first three tracks show a sadder side of Christmas than that of your typical hall-decking, list-checking party tunes. Each of them feels like a perfect opener for some kind of city Christmas movie, with snow falling outside the window, but they’re not exactly the kind of tunes you’d put on to spice up the family get-together, as all three reflect on a common theme of spending Christmas without the one you love. But, of course, that is a reality for many.
Another way this release differs from typical Christmas albums is in its choice of covers. Most musicians either cover traditional religious and holiday tunes, or write their own, but Dustin also chooses to cover some lesser-known songs that other musicians have written. If you think the 6/8 acoustic “Fairytale of New York” has a bit of a Celtic punk feel, it’s because the song was originally by an Irish group called The Pogues. Dustin’s two originals are nice, too. The title track and “This Is War” (despite its title) offer an encouraging balance to the opening sadness.
Dustin gives some traditional renditions of the good traditional minor-key Christmas songs like “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “O Holy Night.” “God Rest You Merry, Gentleman” has some kind of a two-step polka beat that beckons for a dance. They’re all pretty short and standard, just colored in Dustin’s style.
Two new tracks are tacked on to the end. The cover of mewithoutYou’s “A Stick, A Carrot & String” is interesting but nowhere near the quality of the original, although it’s sort of nice to fittingly experience the song in a Christmas setting. Finally, the record closes with an a cappella rendition of “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” with thick harmonies that might sound like Fleet Foxes.
Overall: Dustin Kensrue does Christmas in his own rough and steady style, with a strong selection of both popular and underutilized holiday tunes, and you wouldn’t want it any other way. His renditions may not replace your favorite versions of these songs, but your Christmas shelf of Trans-Siberian Orchestras and Mariah Careys isn’t complete without it, and if you’re just dying out there waiting for the next big thing from Thrice, it’s the perfect thing to carry you through the cold winter. Merry Christmas.
Note: As far as I know, the re-release with the two new tracks is only available on vinyl or through iTunes/Amazon.