I bet you thought I’d keep posting French-language songs… so here’s the latest from Montréal, the English-language romantic with the French last name, Elliot Maginot. This singer-songwriter has been writing original Christmas songs for a few years now, each one with a different tone, but always with crisp pop production and big emotions. Elliot’s journey begins with 2018’s “Christmas Ain’t Enough,” with its familiar rhythms and retro feel, as well as some unexpected, beautiful lyrical moments. Take a listen below.
2019’s “I’ll Know My Savior (Christmas All Around),” takes the previous year’s retro pop production and turns the knob to the 1980s, with a shimmering, romantic 1980s pallet. I’m talking precise synths, a saxophone solo or two, big vocals, and even the 80s staple, chimes – the whole deal. It can feel a bit over-the-top, and it is wonderfully so.
Elliot’s 2020 release, “The Ballad of Mrs. Claus,” also has those 80s chimes and sax solos, yet somehow feels the most contemporary of his earlier tracks. The concept of the song – Mrs. Claus singing to Santa, worrying over him and this whole enterprise – is a concept that could easily have been made into a joke, but it is treated with such thoughtfulness that it is easy to forget that it is about Santa Claus.
After a year hiatus, Elliot returns once more with the beautiful “Christmas on My Mind.” This is his most lush production yet, as his voice turns into a choir singing out over a string section, and perhaps a soprano saxophone or two. However, it is the lyrics that steal the show. That first verse is a thing of beauty:
I never claimed to be a modern man/guess it just wasn’t in my bones
I know I used to be so stubborn then/just wandering like a rolling stone
Between my endless need for love/And everything I thought I knew
I should have known it wouldn’t really feel like Christmas without you.
In each of these songs, Elliot proves to have a wonderful, direct pipeline into some deep, emotional worlds… he must have a wonderful therapist. Please give me the number.
Honestly, there was something about Elliot’s aesthetic that initially made me suspect him and the pop sensibilities he gravitates toward. This is very much not a pop Christmas blog. But there is always something a little askew with him… like in “I’ll Know my Savior,” when he goes pop, he leans in so hard that you start to imagine how big and fantastic it might sound on stage in your local venue. He drove right through my suspicions and busted out the other side. It has truly been a journey listening to these songs by Elliot Maginot.
Bottom Line: These songs feel devotional, without being specifically religious – very much the qualities I enjoy in a Sufjan Stevens Christmas song, just with vastly different production. Somewhat of a revelation, I’m 100% on board with Elliot’s unique, emotional Christmas catalog.