As the year winds to a close, it’s hard to look back at the music of 2018 without thinking of Trevor Drury. The indie pop sensation lit up the underground from one side of the country to the next with his blistering grooves and stylish melodies in singles like the blockbuster hit “Jealousy,” and now with the holiday season on the horizon he takes on Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” with his trademark sultry serenading. Sporting a titillating vocal timbre that is reminiscent of 1940’s crooners like Frank Sinatra, Drury makes the sixty year old classic sound as refreshing and relevant as anything you’ll find when scanning the FM dial for inspiring new music today.
It’s startlingly difficult to make a cover song feel like your own, but Drury somehow does just that with this single without tarnishing the characteristics of Elvis’ legendary track. The harmony between his vocal and the band is translucent and airy, and while he draws all of our focus with his searing dexterity behind the mic, he isn’t egomaniacally making this recording all about himself. There’s plenty of nods to the original version here, mostly in the sonic stylization of the mix, but make no mistake about it – those rigid little sparks of urban pop swing you hear are exclusively of Drury’s creation.
The production quality of both the single and the music video for “Blue Christmas” is nothing short of stunning and remarkably balanced from start to finish, with the video leaving a particularly intrepid impression. Drury is so smooth in his delivery of the lyrics, to such a degree that it’s often hard to tell where his own vocal melody ends and where that of his backing band begins. No one component of this song is more spellbinding than another, but to say that Drury isn’t capable of pulling in all of the attention in a crowded concert hall with his soaring singing just wouldn’t be true.
You can feel the emotion in the verses here without any additional bells and whistles to get between us and the single’s narrative, and a big part of the reason why is rooted in the slightly slowed down pace of this rendition versus the original. Drury plods along with the percussion as if dragging his feet uncomfortably; the feeling of dread that falls in line with being alone around the holidays is everywhere we look in his yearning vocal, but the tenderness of the music saves the song from becoming overwhelmingly elegiac. Honestly though, I don’t know if I could ever feel depressed listening to a track as rousingly organic as this one – which says a lot considering both the subject matter and the fact that it’s a cover.
As essential to the spirit of Christmas as colorful lights and eggnog are, holiday music even at its most emotionally charged and introspective is an irreplaceable tradition in pop that Trevor Drury continues on beautifully with this single. It takes a special kind of performer to be able to remake a song originally recorded by an artist so timelessly appealing that critics like myself still take his moniker as the King of Rock and Roll very seriously, but Drury demonstrates here that there isn’t a composition that he can’t masterfully make his own regardless of its origins. Christmas comes once every twelve months, but tracks like this one are a joy all year long.