The new full-length record Little Universe from Jeff Christmas is a profoundly vulnerable reflection on his struggles within the framework of the world’s injustices. In a time when we should all be working towards seeing where we fit in the mosaic of social dynamics, Jeff provides a powerful example. Jeff recognizes and takes ownership of his place by acknowledging unjust experiences and expressing a desire to right the wrongs of history, while simultaneously grounding these broad ideas in personal experience.
With a sharp look at the subtle behaviors which show the unspoken social rules we live by, Jeff shows empathy and observation in his writing. Hefty themes aside, the album is sonically pleasant and elevates its singer-songwriter roots by including a smooth horn section amid vocal harmonies and breezy blues riffs.
Tracks like “Bottom,” “Sorry,” “Lie,” “Benefit of the Doubt,” addresses the difficulty of being a highly sensitive and observant individual in a world that asks us to look away. By contrast, Jeff looks outward at the lives of others on “Functional,” “Little Universe,” “So Many Mistakes,” making pointed observations. Looking at the broader culture are songs “Always Like This,” “Devour Ourselves,” “Learning in the Line,” addressing the epidemic of gun violence in schools. This album creates a time capsule of a significant emotional process which is frequently overwhelming, yet necessary for all to undergo.
It shows high strength in its refusal to look away despite being written from a position in which it would be easier to remain in denial. The album is deeply patriotic in acknowledging that we can do better with a hopeful message and a strong call-to-action as a country. We could all do well to heed the changing tides.