Kacey Musgraves is getting into the holiday spirit early this year with her debut Christmas album, A Very Kacey Christmas. On the release, Musgraves combines her unique brand of country with a melting pot of genres the only way she knows how — with plenty of spunk and sass.
“I love Christmas music, but there are a million different versions of these songs that we’ve heard our whole lives,” Musgraves notes. “So it was a really fun challenge to say, ‘How do I take these songs and put my own spin on them? What would Christmas sound like coming from me?’ It’s part Western Swing, part classic pop, some Spanish flavor, some Hawaiian music—it’s a little bit me and a little bit of something different that you haven’t heard before.”
The 12-track album includes several holiday standards as well as four new tunes penned by Musgraves. One of those tracks is the witty “A Willie Nice Christmas,” which the singer said came to her while driving to a co-write with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne.
“There’s a very special Texan on this song,” Musgraves explained at a recent album listening event in Nashville. “One day I was driving around Nashville and I had all these Christmas ideas in my head. I was headed to a write with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne in May and I thought, ‘I wonder if they would want to write a Christmas song with me and I think we should write one called ‘A Willie Nice Christmas.'”
The song doesn’t disappoint as Willie Nelson is featured on the comical track which states, “may we all stay higher than the angel on top of the tree.” With a distinct Hawaiian feel, Nelson advises that we “don’t get caught up with the hustle and bustle . . . this time of year ain’t supposed to be so stressful.” Later, both Musgraves and Nelson urge us all to find our own paradise and cleverly, “may it be a lot more green than blue.”
While the original songs impress, so do Musgraves’ unique covers. Opening track “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” encompasses a distinct Western Swing vibe with soaring pedal steel and breathy vocals. Later, on the fun “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” it’s easy to envision a young Kacey Musgraves sitting beneath her tree in Golden, Texas, excitedly unwrapping gifts while awaiting her hippopotamus.
Several songs on the album also embody a throwback feel with the help of The Quebe Sisters on “Let It Snow” and the island infused “Mele Kalikimaka.” Meanwhile, “Present Without a Bow” — another original co-written by Musgraves, fellow Texas artist Leon Bridges, Austin Jenkins and Luke Laird — showcases a soulful duet between Bridges and Musgraves as the two sing of how the holiday season is meant for two, adding , “me without you is like a present without a bow.” Later, “Ribbons and Bows” transports Musgraves to the ’60s a la the Supremes with handclapped rhythms and plenty of saxophone as she sings, “Don’t need expensive rings or diamond things, no I just need your love.”
Musgraves closes the release with the sweet ballad “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” which ends with a snippet of “Auld Lang Syne” on piano. While A Very Kacey Christmas blends multiple genres and influences among classics and originals, the overarching commonality is that if Kacey doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit no one else will.