The album opens with one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Little Drummer Boy.” It begins with drums, though they never overpower the guitars, but rather supply that steady base, from which the guitars can rise and sing. This is a gentle, sweet, beautiful rendition. At times it seems we could just ride away into the ether on these guitars, an appealing notion, as the instruments seem engaged in a dance with the heavens. Then their rendition of “The Christmas Song” begins with guitar, that instrument given the time to establish the mood. It’s about a minute before the other musicians come in. Again, there is a warmth and a peaceful vibe to this music. The music is like a big hug in what sometimes feels like an increasingly cold world.
Davis Causey and Jay Smith place “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night” together. This track has a brighter, more cheerful vibe, with a steady drum beat and a nice country sound. They begin with “Silver Bells,” then soon move into “Silent Night.” It is when they get to “Silent Night” that the track picks up more energy, which is interesting. This piece is not as contemplative as some of the other tracks on this disc. And I love when the guitars move with a good sense of freedom and joy. They go back into “Silver Bells” just before the end. That’s followed by “Following A Star,” an original composition by Davis Causey. This is a slower, beautiful piece, with a sound that is somehow both solemn and joyful. For me, it is one of the disc’s highlights. The second of the album’s two medleys combines “We Three Kings” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” It has a cool vibe right from the start, and features lots of good work on guitar.
I love the way “Angels We Have Heard” sounds on guitar. That pretty and familiar theme always sounds just right on that instrument. There is a good amount of joy in the playing. This is a fairly short track, less than two minutes. It is followed by “What Child Is This?” Of course, instrumental renditions of “What Child Is This?” are really just “Greensleeves.” No matter, for this is a beautiful piece, and these guys deliver a really nice rendition. This is the most jazzy track on this disc, taking on a wonderful groove. And I love the work on saxophone in the second half, lifting the whole thing up to another level. Again, there is obvious joy in the playing. The disc then wraps up with “White Christmas,” this rendition beginning with some pretty riffing on the guitars before settling into that familiar theme. This one is performed by just the two guitarists.
CD Track List
- Little Drummer Boy
- The Christmas Song
- Silver Bells/Silent Night
- Following A Star
- We Three Kings/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Angels We Have Heard
- What Child Is This?
- White Christmas
Pickin’ On Christmas was released on November 11, 2022 on Strolling Bones Records.