Listen Up: Wednesday, December 21, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Jefferson Pepper

Christmas in Fallujah (American Fallout Records)

By Tom Geddie

Here are some of the assumptions that Jefferson Pepper makes on his new, rocking, hard-folk c.d., Christmas in Fallujah: War is bad, we’re all just tools of the mega-corporations, and simply being human in the 21st century is frustrating.

For someone who hasn’t heard it all before, maybe Pepper’s c.d.’s is pretty meaningful. For those of us who’ve either lived through or are aware of Woody Guthrie’s Depression Era songs for the common man, the socially conscious R&B of the late ’60s/early ’70s, and the anti-Vietnam rock of the same era, Pepper comes off as just a little green.

But that doesn’t mean his viewpoints aren’t valid. The title song shares a once-naïve soldier’s growing cynicism about the Iraq war and his mission. On the even more negative “Armageddon for Sale,” Pepper pounds politicians and other power brokers. On the rest of the c.d., the young singer-songwriter manages to take some personal shots, while railing against gas guzzlers, Big Business, and even modern architecture’s tendency to both isolate people and leave them with no sense of place.

The spirit of Christmas in Fallujah is complemented by the instrumentation — clangy electric guitars and ominous rhythms, along with fiddle, dobro, mandolin, and other folky touches. Pepper’s voice is often grating, but when talkin’ war, a rough edge is apropos.

One of the c.d.’s most intriguing tracks is Pepper’s punk — and totally fitting — version of Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” For the politically liberal music lover on your shopping list, Christmas in Fallujah might be the perfect gift. — Tom Geddie


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