It’s a rare new Christmas album that succeeds in feeling both fresh as a snowfall AND cozily familiar at the same time, but country crooner Kacey Musgraves has captured exactly that with A Very Kacey Christmas (released in October), a cheerful—and occasionally mournful—mix of twang-y Christmas classics and originals.
Other than the occasional inclusion of literal jingle bells, A Very Kacey Christmas doesn’t include a lot of bells and whistles. It’s a fairly simple and stripped down album that lets Musgrave’s voice—clear and crisp—do most of the heavy lifting.
Some of the songs are downright silly—like her cover of Jon Rox’s “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” or her original duet with Willie Nelson, “A Willie Nice Christmas,” which includes the line, “May we all stay higher than the angel on the top of the tree”—and others—like her rendition of “Let It Snow” featuring the Quebe Sisters or “Ribbons and Bows” (written by Musgraves, along with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter)—are bouncy and sweet, without being saccharine.
But, in the grand tradition of country music, Musgraves’ Christmas album excels the most when it’s at its saddest. “Present Without a Bow,” featuring Leon Bridges, and “Christmas Makes Me Cry” (both originals) evoke memories of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.”
Closing out the album is a beautiful rendition of the equally beautiful “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” by Frank Loesser. So full of hope yet inevitably leading to disappointment—much like New Year’s Eve itself.
I’m not sure what you’ll be doing this Christmas, but I personally will be pouring myself a couple fingers of whiskey and listening to A Very Kacey Christmas on repeat—all while contemplating the beauty, joy, and loneliness of the season. A Northern dime store cowgirl in a Santa hat.