Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers – The Christmas Swing
Juicy Juju/Vizztone Label Group
Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers have released their first holiday album which follows their well regarded second album from 2017 Big Road. Erin penned a couple of new tracks and she and the band put their swinging spin on 8 familiar and popular Christmas hit songs. It’s a romping and jumping stomp to get you ready for the holidays.
Erin’s guitar and vocals lead the charge here while Jim Countryman plays bass, snaps and claps, Matt “Charles” Prozialeck is on harp and Chris Anzalone is on drums and percussion. Richard Rosenblatt appears on harp on “The Christmas Swing,” a tune he and Erin reworked from their 2014 “Delta Swing” hit song. Harpe also wrote “The Night Before Christmas.”
The tone is set with a dirty, slide guitar version of “Jingle Bell Blues.” The beat throbs, the harp greases things up and the slide work and solo make for a lot of fun as Harpe and the Band kick things off with a slow temp swing rework of the holiday classic. It becomes quickly evident this is not like Bing Crosby’s or Perry Como’s Christmas albums! Following that is “Merry Christmas,” delivered as a tasty, slow blues. Harpe exudes her persona and she and the band move Santa towards at least an R-rated celebration that she invites the jolly old elf to. Big, ringing guitar, more dripping with grease harp and a very deliberate beat along with Erin’s vocals make this a winner.
The original “Night Before Christmas” gives a nice high pitched harp intro as Erin gets into reciting the Clement Clarke Moore poem to a swinging melody and beat with nice harp support. It’s a lot of fun. “At The Christmas Ball” features a piano guest appearance by John Juxo as Harpe delivers an old fashioned music hall performance and the kazoo gets a nice little solo to boot in this Bessie Smith song! Next is an eclectic cover of a 2010 eclectic song by Lost Lou Psyche entitled “Merry Christmas (Here I Come),” a swinging punk rock-ish song with Ms. Psyche yelling and dirty harp. Harpe adds echo on the vocals and some cool backing vocals along with claps and snaps. She enhances the greasy harp and the guitar is swinging in this, too. It’s weirdly fun.
“The Christmas Swing” begins the second half of the CD. Cymbals crash and the guitar and harp get a mid tempo swing going as Harpe testifies vocally. She gives us another nice guitar solo, too. She and Rosie have a nice little new Xmas song here. Leadbelly’s “Christmas Is A-Comin'” is next with more swinging guitar and harp blazing. The folky Leadbelly song is transformed into a Texas/Southwest Swing tune and it works well.
Bo Carter’s “Drink and Get Drunk” follows, not really a Christmas song but who can recall a Christmas holiday where perhaps drinking to a little excess did not occur? Erin spices up the Bo Carter tune and the harp punctuates here vocals nicely. Her washboard and her kazoo also makes an appearance here. Harpe also gives us some nice Chuck Berry licks and a super solo on guitar in “Run Run Rudolph.” The backline and harp work frantically to drive the pace of this and it’s another cool cover in an original style. The album concludes with “Auld Lang Syne,” sung acapella with interesting harmonies that she adds herself. And just when you think it’s done, what to our wondering eyes does appear but her kazoo (which takes us home with the final chorus on the fine instrument).
This is a fun and eclectic Christmas album that I thoroughly enjoyed. Just last week I sifted through my collection and took out my top 85 Christmas CDs to enjoy this season and this appeared for review. I will be giving it many more spins this holiday season and beyond. It was a joy to listen to and if you are looking for a swinging and bluesy new Christmas CD then you need look no further. Kudos to Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers for this fine new holiday CD!