Calexico — Seasonal Shift (Dec. 4th, 2020)

USA FLAG                                                                                           Calexico — Seasonal Shift (Dec. 4th, 2020)  Calexico — Seasonal Shift (Dec. 4th, 2020)⇑♦⇑ Deska je oslavou sváteční sezóny. Hear the Bells jako první. Když už mluvíme o této písni, Joey Burns řekl: „Při psaní písní pro sezónní album jsem chtěl zahrnout některé aspekty oslav a tradic dodržovaných v Tucsonu začátkem listopadu. Tato píseň je o udržení času a prostoru pro vzpomínky. Dia de Los Muertos a The All Souls Procession jsou dvě události, které ovlivnily jižní Arizonu a připomínají ty, kteří zemřeli. Ale mohlo by to být také o tom, že dáte vzpomínkám také důležitost. Příběh by mohl být o dvou milencích nebo dvou členech rodiny.“ Tomu rozumím. Vždy je pro neinformované lidi záhadou, proč zrovna toto mají lidé zapotřebí. A lpí na tom. Záhadou lidské existence není jak přežít. Ale jak najít někoho, kvůli komu žít získáme motivaci a podržíme si ji. 
⇑♦⇑ V reakci na album Joey Burns říká: „Je to spíše sezónní album a jako u všech ročních obdobích jde o změnu a to, jak tyto změny ve světě ve vás rezonují. Nikdy jsem si nemyslel, že by to šlo tak, jak to šlo. Měli jsme za cíl nahrát EP o 6~ti písních a pokračovali jsme. Nemyslel jsem si, že budu v permanentním režimu hibernace, ale jsem superšťastný a nesmírně vděčný.“
⇑♦⇑ Calexico’s ’Seasonal Shift’ is less of a Christmas album and more of a cross cultural seasonal celebration. The themes are based around that familiar end of year feeling, of reflection, of ceremony and of recognition of the year gone by and changes it brought for better and for worse. It contains a few cover songs including classics by John Lennon & Yoko Ono and Tom Petty, a few more special guests and a whole load of good will. It’s heartfelt but fun, and earnest but celebratory. It features Calexico in an assortment of guises, referencing Portuguese Fado and Old Mexican Folk Songs, from the stripped back 2 man skeleton to the full party of international collaborators including artists like Bombino, Gaby Moreno, Gisela João, Nick Urata (DeVotchKa) and Camilo Lara.Calexico (Joey Burns and John Convertino)
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Album release: Dec. 4th, 2020
Record Label: City Slang/Anti–
Duration:     42:15
01. Hear the Bells   3:52
02. Christmas All Over Again (feat. Nick Urata (DeVotchKa)   3:37
03. Mi Burrito Sabanero (feat. Gaby Moreno)   4:05
04. Heart of Downtown (feat. Bombino)   3:49
05. Seasonal Shift   3:22
06. Nature’s Domain   2:67
07. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)   4:02 
08. Glory’s Hope   2:47
09. Tanta Tristeza (feat. Gisela João)   3:49
10. Peace of Mind   3:23
11. Sonoran Snoball (feat. Camilo Lara)   3:07
12. Mi Burrito Sabanero (Reprise)   3:36
by Steven Johnson ⌊2 Dec 2020⌋ Score: ★★★½
⇑♦⇑ Christmas may not be quite the same this year but the timely return of the ever~reliable Calexico with an album of seasonal themed songs helps bring a sense of welcome familiarity to this year’s somewhat muted festivities. The Tucson duo of Joey Burns and John Convertino have proved themselves to be the basis of one of the most consistent bands of the last twenty years and listening to Seasonal Shift, it quickly becomes apparent that it very much deserves to be conidered equally alongside the rest of the Calexico discography and not seen as a novelty or one~off.
⇑♦⇑ Opening track ‘Hear the Bells’ manages to tick most Calexico boxes, being heartwarming, elegiac and uplifting. Pedal steel guitar, strings and customary brass all combine pleasingly and  frontman Joey Burns switches between English and Spanish, and also reflecting moods that veer between the celebratory and the serious. It still manages to be one of the most overtly festive moments on the album but it’s not a theme that dominates the collection. Nuanced songcraft and classic Calexico leitmotifs are very much also in evidence, perhaps best demonstrated on the early pair of Mi Burrito Sabanero and Heart of Downtown. The former has a Latin~flavoured vibrancy, led by the colourful vocals of Gaby Moreno while the latter is quintessential Calexico, showcasing their ongoing strength in constructing engaging, rewarding songs. It also features Bombino on guitar and could quite reasonably be seen as a distant cousin to Quattro (World Drifts In) from their acclaimed 2003 album Feast of Wire.
⇑♦⇑ Seasonal Shift includes two covers — an unburdened and brisk run through of Tom Petty’s Christmas All Over Again with the help of Nick Urata from DeVotchKa and a more prosaic version of Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon & Yoko Ono. It’s hard not to think additional brass may have elevated it to a more distinct place, but in the end they settle for a relatively faithful rendition that above anything else perhaps shows the song to be very well suited to Burns’ voice.

⇑♦⇑ The title track and Nature’s Domain are more low~key and contemplative, showing how Burns is still adept at injecting gravitas to songs where needed. The instrumental Glory’s Hope meanwhile evokes the sight of Christmas lights draped across the dustbowl, coming close to suggesting a landscape where cacti have been replaced by Christmas trees.
⇑♦⇑ Gisela João brings an considered elegance to Tanta Tristeza and Camilo Lara stars on the energetic Sonoran Snoball which is a highlight of the later stages, electronically augmented with moments of bleepy and blocky lighthearted exuberance. Once over, it’s just left for the cast of contributors and beyond to send us their best wishes on the final reprise of Mi Burrito Sabanero. If the prospect of a COVID~impacted Christmas is proving too tough to contemplate then Seasonal Shift is well placed to offer moments of diverting relief.
Mark Whitfield, October 29, 2020: