We don't have twelve songs this time around, but there are four, and three times that makes twelve! So here goes:
"Call Me the Breeze" by Beth Orton: Not to be confused with the more boogie-woogie style, hard rocking Lynyrd Skynyrd song of the same title, Beth Orton's "Call Me the Breeze" sounds more, well, breezy! It is soft and billowy, like listening to a cloud, and it also shows just how much she has departed from the "folk-tronica" she started out with in her career. "Call Me the Breeze" is just pure and simple folk-rock. No electronic instruments or synthetic drumbeats to distract from the essence of the song here. "Call Me the Breeze" plays out almost like a children's song, with its repetitive "call me the..." verses ("Call me the day, call me the night, call me the dark, call me the light", for instance), interrupted only by its chorus ("hear my call, hello-lo-lo-lo, lo-lo-lo-lo, lo"). Definitely a good song to start out the morning with!
"Lover of the Light" by Mumford and Sons: The third single of 2012 from the unlikely folk-rock sensations Mumford and Sons is, perhaps, unlike any they have ever done! Hearing this song live during their "Gentlemen of the Road" tour was already pretty uplifting, and thankfully, M & S retain the magic of the song for the studio version of it! "Lover of the Light" is the first M & S song to feature a percussion section, and it is also the first song in their catalog that is TRULY "folk-rock", with an electric guitar providing a backbone to their more expected use of acoustic guitar and banjo. "Lover of the Light" has a similar rhythm (and sound, somewhat) to The Dave Matthews Band's "Crash Into Me". Unlike Mr. Matthews' song, "Lover of the Light" is not seductive in any way, shape, or form (for it to be so would be a shock for fans of M & S), and is instead, honest and heartfelt to the very core ("So love the one you hold, and I'll be your goal, to have and to hold, a lover of the light")! The Mumfords continue to amaze me with every song they do, and I hope they will continue in that direction for as long as they can keep a musical career!!
"Maybe On Monday" by Calexico: "Maybe On Monday" is both a sadder song and an edgier song than most of Calexico's material. The electric guitar makes a surprise appearance in this song by a band who is typically more known for their acoustic-y stuff (though "Maybe On Monday" can still be called "folk-rock" nonetheless), and there is no horn solo in the song, which is incredibly unusual for a Calexico composition. The subject matter of the song also leaves a lot of questions floating around in the listener's mind. For instance, why do the opening lyrics ("Woke up on Monday and wrote you a love song/Well the pen stopped and the paper flew out the window, and the notes rang down the road") sound as though Calexico's lead singer is somehow equating a painful relationship with writer's block?! Can't say I know too many songs that are like this one, but that's just all the more reason to like it!
"Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights") by JD McPherson: JD's success among adult alt audiences (particularly with the catchy, Little Richard-esque "North Side Gal"), came as a big surprise (but a darn good one) to listeners everywhere! Perhaps that's why JD felt like the time was right for him to do a Christmas song, even though he's only had two hits so far! The whimsical lyrics and jingle-bell sound of "Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights") recalls a lot of the Phil Spector Christmas songs from the early '60s, but the rhythm of the song, like most of JD's material, is pure '50s rock! Merry Christmas and a rockin' New Year!!