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Seasons Greetings

 ‘Tis the season to kick back, relive memories of Christmases past and enjoy family and friends.

As always, Boomtown America has a great selection of those oldies but goodies you love so well. But we’ve also added a sprinkling of holiday songs both past and present to help make your yuletide bright.

Enjoy!

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Okay. A few folks have asked us what we think of the new ABBA album, Voyager – the band’s first release in 40 years. On the whole, we like it A LOT. When we’re not listening to the music stream here at BoomtownAmerica.com, we’ve had this on our old-fashioned CD player and we’ve grown to appreciate it more with each subsequent listen.

While there is nothing on the album that’s as incandescent as “Dancing Queen” or “Mamma Mia,” there’s also nothing as embarrassing as some of the tracks on their first LP. If you were not an ABBA fan before this album was released, we doubt that it’s going convert you. But if you’re one of the legion of ABBA devotees the world around, Voyager more than fills the bill.

Musically, the album continues the trend the band was following on their last two studio LPs (Super Trouper & The Visitors), away from the catchy, dance-flavored pop that made them the world’s best-selling rock act in their heyday. As a whole, the 10 tracks find the group aging quite gracefully and dealing with more mature subject matter.

Here's a track-by-track rundown:

1. I Still Have Faith in You – Appropriately, the album opens with this nice, understated number with Frida and Agnetha expressing lyrically what they all must have been thinking when they began work on new material – do they still have it in them? Two minutes in – they answer their own question when the patented ABBA harmony kicks in with full force. Yep, they still have it.

2. When You Danced with Me – This song reminded us of something that set ABBA apart from nearly all other mega-successful rock acts. Virtually every single American and British band is steeped deeply in the tradition of American blues. ABBA, being from Scandinavia, was not. Instead, they cut their musical teeth on European folk traditions (think beerhalls & Oktoberfest). That sound is in full flower on this track – a nice, up-tempo number that will having you reaching for your lederhosen and Heidi braids.

3. Little Things – Hard to believe, but this is ABBA’s first (and very likely, only) Christmas song. It describes a warm, quiet Christmas morning with the family. It’s a little slower than the first two tracks, but finishes up with an angelic children’s chorus that will have you wondering why they waited so long to create some holiday music.

4. Don’t Shut Me Down – A nice little tune that reminds you how effortlessly they seemed to spin pop gold out of thin air back in the 1970s.


5. Just a Notion – If you want a track that brings back the full ABBA sound from the height of their popularity, this is your track. It’s easy to see why. It was originally written back in the day, but Benny & Bjӧrn could never get a mix they liked. Until now. It demonstrates how incredibly deep was their talent when this catchy little pop-rocker was put on the shelf. Other versions of this tune have surfaced over the years as bootlegs and a snippet of it was included on a deluxe ABBA box set. Now, we have it fully produced.

6. I Can Be That Woman – Following the trip back to disco-days-ABBA, the next track finds them in a more mature, reflective mood. This is a slow tune dealing with the inevitable disappointments that crop up in long-term relationships. Agnetha has a knack like no other pop singer for adding a note of real sadness & regret to her vocals. There’s no happy ending to this one – just the hint that things will probably continue as they have.

7. Keep an Eye on Dan – Initially, ABBA was attacked for the lack of depth in their lyrics (“Bang-a-Boomerang,” anyone?). But as the band went on and Bjӧrn Ulvaeus grew more confident in his handling of the English language, the content of their lyrics matured spectacularly. They were one of the first pop bands to deal with divorce (“Knowing Me, Knowing You”) and the bittersweet feeling of watching your children go up and away from you (“Slipping Through My Fingers”). The previous track and this one continues that trend. This song deals with the strain of shared parental custody. Moreover, the music has an undercurrent of foreboding. There is something wrong, not just in the relationship between the divorced parents, but perhaps with their child as well. This one, like “The Day Before You Came,” creates a general feeling of unease without ever explaining exactly what’s wrong, inviting you to complete the process with your own interpretation. Not only that, but the track concludes with a callback to the melody of a previous ABBA hit. This is the album’s best track.

8. Bumblebee – Don’t let the title fool you. This is a quiet little meditation on what might happen if the world’s bee population is driven to extinction juxtaposed with an idyllic stroll through a garden on a sunny afternoon.

9. No Doubt About It – Okay, enough with the downers. This one is your typical ABBA up-tempo rocker. Lyrically, it’s about a woman hell-bent on picking a fight with her mate and then regretting it. Not to worry, as the song’s final line states: “This isn’t where it ends.”

10. Song of Freedom – A song in the tradition of “I Have a Dream.” Placed as the final track of Voyager, we end with a note of hope for the future, elegantly stated by one of the great rock acts of all time.

The band never really broke up. They just never expected they would be taking a 40-year break. No one knows if we’ll ever get any more ABBA music; but if not, Voyager is more than up to the task of being a sweet, satisfying farewell effort.