With only 52 days until Christmas, there’s not much time for rounding out your letters to Santa Claus with your most-covered overdrive pedal. But if you need inspiration, the irrepressible dispenser of good-time shred vibes Paul Gilbert has shared the latest track from his forthcoming Christmas album, ’TWAS.
Every Christmas Has Love is one of two original compositions – three if you count the Japanese edition – on an album that finds Gilbert reworking a number of festive standards for electric guitar.
As with much of his work, Every Christmas... is a guitar instrumental featuring Gilbert’s super-expressive slide guitar standing in for vocals. Mr G often composes lyrics for his slide-guitar melodies, and he has helpfully included these in the video, just so you can sing along should the mood take you.
If you follow Gilbert on Instagram, you will have seen this album coming, with the shred pioneer tracking the album during the off-season with Dan Balmer on guitar, Clay Giberson on keys, Timmer Blakely playing bass and Jimi Bott on drums, with the whole thing coming together in Bott’s studio.
Gilbert formally announced the project last month, showcasing his yuletide soft-rock virtuoso sound on debut single, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and Every Christmas Has Love continues in this vein, containing all the spiritual uplift you might expect from the third act of The Muppet Christmas Carol.
“Every Christmas Has Love was written quickly, inspired by my panic-driven mental state of album making,” says Gilbert. “When I know that the recording sessions are coming, my brain shifts into survival mode, and melodies start popping out. Then I take all the chords I learned by listening to 70s AM radio, and build a song. The lyrics are nice too. I'll be printing those in the liner notes of the album.”
It might be too early for the tinsel and Slade – we’ve just wrapped up Halloween after all – but like a warm mince pie on an unseasonably cold day, few things are more restorative than Paul Gilbert turning the art of instrumental guitar into feel-good music for all the family.
Rest assured, Gilbert might be jumping the gun and opening the Christmas crackers a little early, but he is not a total monster. Humbugs everywhere will be relieved to learn that ’TWAS will be released on CD/digital through The Players Club/Mascot Label Group at a more Advent-adjacent date of 26 November.
A vinyl release will follow on 10 December – whereupon it will definitely be more socially acceptable to be sharing eggnog recipes and heating up a batch of glühwein come 5pm. Christmas? It’s getting earlier and earlier each year.