Any honest reviewer of any type of material should always be honest about any conflict of interests they have with the subject matter.
I loathe Christmas music (minus Amy Grant’s A Christmas Album, Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and most versions of “O Holy Night.”) Especially, I don’t like Christmas music anytime before say, December 15. I just can’t do it.
I love Kacey Musgraves. I can’t think of a single one of Kacey’s songs I don’t like. I love her songwriting partners, I like her band’s outfits. I just love her.
Kacey’s first dive into a holiday album, A Very Kacey Christmas, is so Kacey it’s scary. Who knew you could take the slightly grating “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” and pair it with Kacey’s vocals to make it totally bearable?
Kacey’s entire album is full of Kacey’s rich, smooth vocals and features other elements of her musical prowess including some Western swing and old school country. Inspired by the likes of Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, Kacey says of the album, “I didn’t want it to just be a country Christmas record, I wanted to have this old, classic feel to it and evoke all that great music from the ’40s and ’50s, even some Motown vibe, so you can’t really pinpoint what the record sounds like.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Kacey album without an appearance from her favorite living legend– Willie Nelson.
“A Willie Nice Christmas” features Willie along with some of the pair’s favorite themes– finding your own way and enjoying the people around you. The song is obviously clever and sounds like the Adam Sandler classic, “Chanukah Song” but also has an island vibe meets West Texas Christmas. The lyrics encourage listeners to be present and enjoy the holidays– whatever that holiday is, wherever they are.
Have a Willie happy Hanukkah
A Willie happy Kwanzaa ’cause it’s all the same
A Mele Kalikimaka, hey
Whatever way you wanna say
Just have yourself a
Really, really, really
A really, really, Willie nice Christmas
The album also features three other brand new songs from Kacey, “Ribbons and Bows,” “Christmas Makes Me Cry” and “Present Without a Bow,” which features fellow Texan and acclaimed singer Leon Bridges. The original tunes focus a bit on a part of the holidays most artists shy away from– the sadness that can linger.
“That was important for me to incorporate, because to me the holidays can be a little bit sad, and I feel like no one really wants to talk about that—and as a songwriter, I wanted to tap into that. We miss loved ones who aren’t there, maybe our expectations don’t get met sometimes. So the song called ‘Christmas Makes Me Cry’ speaks to that.”
“Ribbons and Bows” is reminiscent of that classic wall of sound sound made famous by Phil Spector and his 1960s girl groups.
Overall, it’s a real treat to hear Kacey take such classic songs and truly make them her own. And of course, her songwriting ability continues to be unparalleled.
If you’re a listener that has trouble getting into the Christmas music zone, A Very Kacey Christmas could get you there. At least after Thanksgiving anyway.
Kacey Musgraves – A Very Kacey Christmas