On her first-ever holiday album For Christmas, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Amanda Shires invites the world into a fantastically warped wonderland of her own making. Though there’s flying reindeer and fallen tinsel and angels serenely plucking harps, Shires’s finespun storytelling sheds light on the kind of holiday experiences and emotions that often go ignored in Christmas songs: the family drama and forced cheer, burnt-out frustration and elaborate fantasies of escaping off to some far-away tropical island. Mostly made up of original material from the Texas-bred musician, the album unfolds in a selection of piano songs touched with the timeless charm of Brill Building pop—a lovely setting for the luminous vocal presence she’s brought to a series of acclaimed solo albums and to her role as a member of The Highwomen. Revealing an entirely new side of Shires’s idiosyncratic mind, the result belongs to that rare breed of holiday music that feels undeniably resonant at any season of the year.
The follow-up to 2018’s critically lauded To The Sunset, For Christmas marks the realization of a longtime dream for Shires. “I’ve always wanted to make a record that’s true to what Christmas is like for me, and all the mixed emotions that come with it,” she says. “There’s the happiness of being with family, and then the reality that getting a bunch of your family members in the same room is maybe never a great idea. I’m one of those hopeless-romantic types, so there’s the romance and beauty of Christmas but also the sadness, especially when not everybody you’re used to having around gets to be there anymore. There’s a lot of nostalgia in these songs, but there’s a lot of reality too.”
Produced by Lawrence Rothman and recorded live at Sound Emporium Studios in her homebase of Nashville, For Christmas finds Shires working with bassist Jimbo Hart (her bandmate in Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit), pianist Peter Levin (a jazz musician she met while touring with The Gregg Allman Band), guitarist Pat Buchanan (Dolly Parton, The Chicks), and drummer Fred Eltringham (Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams). Over the course of four hot days in July, Shires and her collaborators laid down the album’s nine original songs and two covers (including Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and a darkly charged reimagining of “Silent Night”), infusing every track with the unbridled joy of the recording sessions. “We ate a ton of donuts and all wore Christmas hats, and the place was decked out in all these Christmas lights,” recalls Shires, who played fiddle and violin on For Christmas. “It’s hard to be in the studio sometimes, but everybody brought so much fun and humanity to the whole thing.”
Throughout For Christmas, Shires leads her audience on a whirlwind journey through the chaos of holidays, often spiking her nuanced reflection with a bit of goofball humor (“The pressure’s different when you’re writing Christmas songs as opposed to confessional songs or protest songs—there’s a chance to bring some comedy, and get more punny than normal,” she notes). Along the way, Shires presents such gems as “Blame It on the Mistletoe,” a tribute to the dizzying bliss of falling in love at holiday time (sample lyric: “I admit I was feeling a little ho-ho-hopeless/Thinking this crush was just one-sided”). One of several tracks featuring legendary gospel quartet The McCrary Sisters, the sublimely offbeat “Gone for Christmas” slinks along in a Grinch-inspired groove as Shires shares a litany of less-than-orthodox holiday wishes (“I want a date with Larry David/I want Costa Rica or the Caymans/And I want you gone for Christmas”). And on “Always Christmas Around Here,” For Christmas closes out with a riotously true-to-life portrait of the holiday’s aftermath (“A mess in the living room/There’s a wine all over the couch/My sisters aren’t speaking/Who’s crying now?”). “That song was my favorite to put together,” Shires points out. “John Prine had passed away not too long before, and he loved Christmas—he always had a Christmas tree up everywhere, even in the studio. I was thinking about all the problems that come with the holidays, and how difficult families can be, and I know I wrote a song he would say was pretty great.”
Elsewhere on For Christmas, Shires channels everything from lustful whimsy (“A Real Tree This Year”) to glorious catharsis (“Let’s Get Away”) to heavy-hearted longing (on the quietly devastating “Slow Falling Snow”). “What I wanted to do with this record was capture all of my feelings about Christmas, and I’ve still got more feelings to go—it’s so fun I might do it again,” says Shires. “I hope it helps people know that all the feelings are okay, that it’s all right to feel down on Christmas when there’s so much celebrating going on around you. And at the same time I just wanted to give everyone some Christmas songs they haven’t already heard 200,000 times before, and hopefully get them all to sing along.”
Norah Jones has been a warm voice of comfort and reassurance for nearly 20 years since her cozy 2002 debut, Come Away With Me. Now, the 9x GRAMMY-winning artist has made her first holiday album with I Dream Of Christmas, a collection of timeless seasonal favorites (“White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Christmas Time Is Here”) and profound new originals that explore the complicated emotions of the past year and our hopes that this holiday season will be full of joy and togetherness.
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To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Christmas Lights, the band's 2010 single is to be given a physical release for the very first time! A limited edition blue vinyl 7-inch will be released worldwide
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White vinyl with red and green splatter. Includes digital download of entire album plus 4 bonus tracks - Angels We Have Heard on High, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Up On The Housetop, and Blue Christmas.
The Old 97's are excited to announce the release of their first ever collection of original Christmas songs, Love The Holidays. The album was produced, mixed & engineered by John Pedigo in the band's home state of Texas. The LP presents a sack full of rockin' new Yuletide favorites, as well as Old 97's take on holiday classics. Among its many highlights are the title track, co-written with Kevin Russell (The Gourds, Shinyribs), "Gotta Love Being A Kid (Merry Christmas)" and "Snow Angels," both co-written with acclaimed writer Ben Greenman, and the continuing saga of everyone's favorite reindeer, "Rudolph Is Blue," co-written by Old 97's and Dan Bern.
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My childhood memories of Christmas aren't warm and fuzzy. The holidays were more of a nuisance for my parents than cause for celebration. This is not to say that on behalf of their only child they didn't give the season a halfhearted try. There were Christmases when I found under the tree an electric football set, a Daisy pump air-rifle and a basketball goal that never got nailed up. But, there were also mornings when apples, oranges, hickory nuts and a hammer signified that year's bounty. Which is to say that Christmas in our household was mostly a wait-and-see proposition. I was finally ready to record an album of original Christmas songs. With Dan Knobler producing and some very gifted musicians and vocalists lending their talents, the making of the album Christmas Everywhere ranks as some of the most enjoyable recording sessions I've ever experienced. The record was close to being finished when it occurred to me that to set the tone for the albums mostly irreverent subtext, I needed to compose a lyrical prelude. In honor of Clement Moore, who wrote the poem we all know as, 'The Night Before Christmas,' I came up with a short piece called 'Clement's Lament (We'll See You in The Mall)'. Tania Hancheroff and Kim Keyes stopped by the studio and performed the tune with Jordan Lehning's orchestral backing and the album was pronounced complete. Seasons Cheer, Rodney Crowell
JD McPherson presents A Christmas Album, SOCKS. Featuring 11 original tracks written by JD McPherson and his friends. SOCKS is an album of Holidays songs sure to be standards while you are decorating the tree. Come get warm by the fire with songs such as , "All The Gifts I Need" and "Every Single Christmas." Or, burn the cookies to "SOCKS" and "Ugly Christmas Sweater." There is something for everyone on this record to enjoy whether you are in the Christmas spirit or if you just wanna say, "Bah Humbug".
Genre-defying, Grammy Award-winning band The Mavericks have announced the November 2nd release of their first-ever holiday album, Hey! Merry Christmas!. Always a group to forge their own path, The Mavericks wrote eight original songs for Hey! Merry Christmas! featuring the group's distinctive blend of rockabilly Latino, folk, swing, blues, jazz, and more. The new songs inject a fresh style and sound into the holiday season while seamlessly fitting into any rotation of Christmas classics. The new collection includes The Mavericks' renditions of two yuletide favorites ''Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)'' and ''Happy Holiday''. Led by the incomparable vocals of Raul Malo, drummer Paul Deakin, guitarist Eddie Perez and keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden, The Mavericks will embark on their 30th Anniversary in 2019, but not before establishing some new holiday music traditions. From the rollicking opening tracks ''Christmas Time Is Coming 'Round'' and ''Santa Does'' to the gorgeous, jazzy ballad ''Christmas For Me Is You'' to the sultry blues of ''Santa Wants To Take You For A Ride'' The Mavericks help redefine what the sounds of Christmas can be.
Growing up in my household in Southern California on the corner of Mt. Vernon & Fairway, Music was an integral part of life, But there was no other time of the year where music was more part of life than during the holidays. The grand piano, organ and harp in the living room provided the instrumental backing to all the vocals. The Holidays were a time of family get-togethers, gift giving , wonder feasts and most memorably, Christmas carols sung in harmony with one another. Songs Like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Little St. Nick” combined with songs that remind us of the Reason for the Season; celebrating an event that took place in the little town of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago, the birth of Jesus, which for many became a birth of hope , peace, unity & love. As the words of “O Holy Night” say “His Law is love and His gospel is peace, “Jesus taught us to love one another. That message needs to be heard today more than ever before. So, as we celebrate and enjoy all the wonderful traditions of the holiday season, Lets hold in our hearts the Reason for the Season. Peace & Love Mike Love
Grammy-nominated vocalist Jessie J to release new holiday This Christmas Day via Lava Records / Republic Records on 10/26. The album will include her previously released holiday track “Man With The Bag” in addition to holiday classics “Let It Snow,” “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” and “Jingle Bell Rock”. The album features production by David Foster. Jessie J will embark on her first US headlining tour this October.
All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer's (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It's there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara's key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy and featuring a special performance by Misty Copeland, Disney's new holiday feature film "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms" is directed by Lasse Hallström and based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic tale and "The Nutcracker." In theaters on Nov. 2, 2018.
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