A Very Kacey Christmas

A Very Kacey Christmas

Nearly every country music legend has recorded a Christmas album, from Johnny Cash to Loretta Lynn to Reba McEntire. So how do you top greatness? Easy: Recruit the likes of Willie Nelson and Leon Bridges—not to mention top-tier songwriters like Brandy Clark—for a mix of new holiday tunes and classic takes. It’s a combination Kacey Musgraves perfects on 2016’s A Very Kacey Christmas. Released on the heels of Musgraves’ hit sophomore effort Pageant Material, this 12-track holiday celebration only broadened the singer’s already growing appeal. A Very Kacey Christmas is a gentle, fun, and at times melancholy collection that demonstrates Musgraves’ undying holiday spirit as much as it does her writing and arranging prowess. The singer co-produced the record alongside Kyle Ryan and Misa Arriaga, and the songs shine with layered strings and snowy steel guitar. Musgraves masters the classics: “Feliz Navidad” and “Let It Snow”—the latter featuring old-time harmonies from the Quebe Sisters—stand up with the best versions of those classics, while songs like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” thrive with a dose of her country spirit. But it’s the album’s originals that allow A Very Kacey Christmas to stand apart in a crowded field. “Christmas Makes Me Cry” is an exquisite precursor to Golden Hour’s “Happy & Sad,” pondering the ache that can linger at a time when we’re supposed to be relishing in festive joy. “Ribbons and Bows,” meanwhile, is a perfectly horn-adorned Christmas bop about figuring out what really matters during the holidays (hint: it’s not material things). And “Present Without a Bow,” with vocals from Bridges, is the rare holiday song that could sound as fresh in the spring as it does in the dead of December. A Very Kacey Christmas proved to be yet another commercial hit for Musgraves—so much so, it inspired a 2019 television special starring an A-list cast of friends and collaborators, including Lana Del Rey, Camila Cabello, and Zooey Deschanel. More than a mere seasonal side project, A Very Kacey Christmas has become an essential part of the Kacey Musgraves canon: inventive, vintage, and cheeky—and yet somehow completely timeless. Just like Musgraves herself.

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