Funny to review a “Christmas” CD with summer coming on strong in most parts of the country but we just had to. Our excuse: we got this one after Christmas. And, it’s not your typical Christmas CD. You can tell that right off with the title track “Christmas in Fallujah.” Doesn’t exactly give you visions of sugar plums, does it? This one also makes a nice companion piece to Neil Young’s new release “Living With War.”
Jefferson Pepper’s music ranges from folky to country rock to almost punk. The melodies are insidiously appealing. If you’re not paying close attention, you might miss the fact that it’s a scathing indictment of the current U.S. administration. Yeah, right. The lyrics are as sarcastic and pointedly critical as, I don’t know, Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.
The title track, in particular, brings home the misery that the people in Iraq are living with day after day as we “give the gift of freedom, through unprovoked attack.” How’s that for bitter irony? The line that sticks in my head is: “if we get it right half the time, that’s close enough.” Talk about a casual attitude toward collateral damage. And the violin the song starts with is so so sweet, providing dramatic contrast with the harshness of the lyrics and the story they tell.
Pepper asks the question that gets to the heart of what America seems to be all about these days —- “what’s wrong with me making a shitload of money on the side?” That pretty much sums up the philosophy of our administration.
Inside the CD, there’s a picture of a Christmas elf holding up a banner that says “It’s not about the oil.” Of course it isn’t.
Other tracks deal with the way our culture grooms boys to go to war, the social implications of urban sprawl, our nationally short attention span, conspicuous disposable consumption, the economic depression, stuff like that.
The entire CD reeks of disillusionment. Plus it sounds good. It’s a debut album that is guaranteed to stay with you.