3. Snow Angels Of Pigtown
4. Woman Loves The Season
5. Candy Cane
6. Circle Of Steel
7. Christmas Behind Me
8. First Day Of The New Year
9. Dreams Of Spring
10. Winterland's Gone
AMAZON (Vinyl LP)
CD/VINYL LP COMBO PACKAGE
If the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, the Byrds, the Moody Blues, REM, Big Star, Todd Rundgren, and Kurt Cobain were snowed into a recording studio in Ithica, New York one long winter’s month with George Martin, Phil Spector, and Jimmy Iovine, the resulting album might sound very much like “Winterland”, Jigsaw Seen’s brilliant new concept album.
“Winterland” looks beyond the Holly Jolly of December, taking the listener on a virtual sleigh ride down the rabbit hole of life’s realities—viewed through a psychedelic holiday kaleidoscope.
From the opening notes of “What About Christmas?” to the fading wind at the end of “Winterland’s Gone”, “Winterland” will remind you of why you first fell in love with Rock N Roll, whether you grew up with the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion or in the Grunge soaked era of Nirvana.
The biggest mystery is why Jigsaw Seen isn’t one of the biggest selling bands of our time. These guys write great songs with intelligent lyrics and wonderful hooks and “Winterland” is a great album that harkens back to a time when albums were events which were anticipated like holidays and that marked the days of our lives much more effectively than any calendar.
It’s hard to pull out specific highlights because every song on the album is unique and memorable, and the album as a whole shines even greater than the sum of its parts.
“What About Christmas?” is an aural delight that spurs memories of the exquisite production of Sgt. Pepper era Beatles. That’s followed by what may be the album’s most beautiful track, the brief instrumental “December”. Reminiscent of the classic Moody Blues sound, “December” is the drawing of a deep breath before the sleigh ride begins in earnest.
“Snow Angels of Pigtown”, a song that perhaps wonders a bit too much about the secret lives of snow “divots”, is probably the most upbeat and pop single-y song on the set. It’s been described as “Massachusetts” via (the group) Berlin, and that’s a pretty good description, though I think it shortchanges the track’s charm just a tad.
Next up is a riff that sounds like the start of a take off on “We Three Kings”…for 3 notes, and then we’re dropped off the table into “Woman Loves The Season”—a wrenching ballad drenched in pathos and irony—but delivered in a delicious sauce of 60s psychedelia blended with 90s grunge.
“Candy Cane” is a song featuring dark breakup lyrics set to what otherwise might be a Hollies-like pop song filled with jangly guitars. The production here is excellent, layering sounds in such a way that, the closer you listen to it, the more sinister it can appear. It’s a more musically ambitious track than first meets the ear, and it’s executed to perfection.
The most amazing thing about the only non-original included on “Winterland”, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Circle Of Steel”, is how naturally it fits…as though it were written specifically for this album. Dave Davies of the Kinks lends a hand on the vocals for this song about decking the halls in a tenement slum, “where the rats run around like they own the place”.
The album closes with a quartet of songs that are, thematically, about rising out of a dark period of introspection and emerging healthier—and oddly wistful and almost nostalgic—on the other side. Musically, they remind me of nothing less than those great operatic endings to the great Beatles albums of the late 60s. “Dreams of Spring” in particular, with its mix of delicate piano and strings, drums, weeping guitar, and the closing choir, soars to places most bands can only ever dream of reaching.
Let’s be clear. “Winterland” is not an album you’ll likely be playing on Christmas morning while the kids open their presents. But Christmas isn’t all tinsel and twinkling lights. Jigsaw Seen's “Winterland” is a perfect album to keep with you in the car from November through February, cranking the volume to eleven while you drive down the snowy streets of your town USA. It’s an album that will stick with you from the first listen...and for decades to come.
In addition to Dave Davies, the album also features appearances by Kristi Callan of Wednesday Week, Theresa O’Donaghue of Oh Sisters, Lisa Jenio of Candypants and Kira Vollman of Non Credo. The great and legendary Peter Mew mastered “Winterland” at Abbey Road Studios in London.
If you’ve got the scratch, I highly recommend the “Winterland” LP/CD combo package available from Jigsaw Seen through their web store.