Review: Oxbow - Love's Holiday

Album Title
Love's Holiday
Released On
Ipecac Recordings

Among my oldest friends is a guy who I have defended on many occasions. He doesn’t know about it and I’d never tell him, but my defense has always been the same. A variation of the phrase “If you knew how he was raised, you’d understand why he acts that way.” It’s vague and it’s meant to be. It works to temporarily diffuse the situation, creates some empathy, and get us both off the hook for whatever chaotic or irrational behavior got us there. However, at this point in life, I’m tired of the antics and justifying them, so I’ve distanced myself. I look forward to the day he decides to either explain himself or simply calms the fuck down. On Love’s Holiday, OXBOW seems to have done both.

Honestly, every time I listen to Oxbow, I feel like I've never heard them before. The music they’ve created over the last thirty years is jarring. From Fuck Fest to The Thin Black Duke, I often walked away with that car crash feeling of “what the fuck just happened?” even when I know exactly what happened. It's more deja vu than total unfamiliarity.

The croak of Eugene S. Robinson singing is impossible to forget. His delivery and vocal patterns are distinctly different from any other artist. His writing style in both lyrics and print is often too sharp for my brain to process, but throughout Love’s Holiday that croak is more of a croon to match the mood of the music.

This is a slow record. Self-described as an album of love songs, Oxbow certainly feels like they are pining to get something off of their chest. Maybe they’ve told us all before, but on Love’s Holiday they are making sure it’s heard. This record sits with you on the edge of your bed and tells you the truth. 

"All Gone" builds like it's part of the big reveal in a penultimate film scene. It's not the first or only moment on the record that feels cinematic, but it will make your mind create a scene. Uplifting choral moments, beautiful piano instrumentation, creepy whispers from Robinson, there's a lot at play on this track and it doesn't feel like too much.

Every album and probably every song in the band's catalog feels intensely serious. Still, stripping away some of that intensity is a sort of addition by subtraction. The slower and calmer approach on Love's Holiday gives these songs a weight that pushes a little further on the listener's soul. Like literal heavy music. 

Dan Craley
Gotten Out By
Dan Craley

Dan started Getting It Out back in 2018 as a stand alone podcast. He’s been writing for music websites for over a decade and finally decided to start his own. Now living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with his wife and kids, he briefly sang for Baltimore’s Pleasant Living.

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