Delicate Steve(aka Steve Marion) is one of the best young guitarists working today. A eloquent mix of Ry Cooder, Santos and Johnny, and George Harrison, Delicate Steve makes his guitar sing in place of his voice, creating an often engaging and haunting sound.
On Delicate Steve’s The Christmas Album the standards are covered in a bluesy, country fashion. Marion’s guitar takes on a pedal steel feel giving the songs we sing with family and friends an almost Hawaiian feel. It’s the Christmas album you didn’t know you needed.
Delicate Steve gives each song its own mood and vibe. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has an almost soul vibe, complete with big horns, Duane Allman-like slide guitar, and some tasteful electric piano, and just the right amount of Philly groove to get grandma shuffling in the kitchen. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” sounds like Phil Spector producing Dr. Dog, all the while the guitar carries us along for the ride. “Silent Night” was always a favorite of mine, ever since being a little kid and hearing my uncles playing and singing it at family get-togethers on Christmas Eve. Delicate Steve gives it just the right amount of melancholy in the bittersweet slide, while Hammond B-3 organ brings the song into The Band territory.
Elsewhere “Silver Bells” has some old school country flavor while “The First Noel” sways like classic Bonnie Raitt. Of course what Christmas album would be complete with “Frosty The Snowman”? Delicate Steve gets a little more rocking for our favorite snowman with bright, buzzing electric guitar and a big drum sound. It’s a different vibe from what came before, as if “Frosty The Snowman” somehow morphed with the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
I think when it comes to Christmas music, occasionally it’s nice to divert from the normal chorale versions and hear a unique interpretation of those standards. There have been some amazing rock-centric Christmas albums over the years; Squirrel Nut Zippers, Sufjan Stevens, The Flaming Lips, and Andrew Bird to name just a few. You can add Delicate Steve’s The Christmas Album on that list of great Christmas records.