It wasn’t even time for Halloween yet when Kelleigh Bannen decided she wanted to record a couple Christmas songs to celebrate the upcoming holiday season.
As she boarded a plane in early October, the country singer made the executive choice to go ahead with her pre-Christmas jitters and take on some carols she grew up listening to as a kid while living in Tennessee. Asking for help from her drummer and Lone Bellow band member, Justin Glasco, the two tag-teamed the traditional tunes but wanted to bring their jolly spirit to the next level.
For her recording of “O Holy Night,” Bannen opted to step away from the slow, waltzy sounds most listeners familiarize with, adding in a little bit of soul and a little bit of sass.
“The whole idea was let’s kind of mess them up. Irreverently, reverentially kind of play with these songs, and ‘O Holy Night’ is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I always sing it at my church on Christmas Eve, but it’s like the really traditional 6/8 waltz, really contemplative, you know, the really traditional version. So, he [Glasco] was like, ‘What if we do like a soul, like funky soul version of it and we make it 4/4 and you can kinda just play with the melody.’ So we just kinda made up that arrangement that day. He was on the Wurlitzer, so it was kinda funky to begin with,” Bannen explained to Sounds Like Nashville during a phone interview.
Bannen stayed on the unique stylings through the recording of “Deck the Halls,” despite the track not making it on her Top 10 favorites list during the yuletide season. Remixing the filler ‘fa-la-la’ part, the singer got a little crazy but made the organized chaos into a beautiful creation.
“‘Deck the Halls’ was honestly, this is gonna sound terrible, it’s not one of my favorites,” Bannen admitted. “So normal. It’s just super straightforward, and he was like, ‘I feel like we could push the envelope…Why don’t you try and sing it and mess up the ‘fa-la-las.’ So that’s how we kinda came up with that ‘Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la’ part, that’s not the normal ‘fa-la-las.” Then it was like wait, that’s so fun, and we wanted it to sound like a band on a front porch had just fallen into playing it, so it was kind of messy.”
Bannen’s versions of “O Holy Night” and “Deck the Halls” are available now.