Album Review: ‘The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show’

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  • Kacey Musgraves | The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show | UMG Recordings, Inc.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Artists tend to slice off a good ham’s worth of dignity for their Christmas efforts, gifting songs to their fans with all the recycled cheer and room-temperature ennui of a K-Mart holiday aisle.

But, like a pair of khakis on Santa’s gift list, there are grin-inducing outliers, if not reminders of why we still hang this freaking stuff on the walls.

The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, a live performance filmed as an Amazon Prime featurette and recorded as a full-length album released on November 29th, is one such exception. Aside a rotating cast of guest celebrity names, from comedian Fred Armisen to pop chanteuse Camila Cabello, the Grammy-winning singer croons classic Yuletide tunes, and four originals, atop a set of her childhood home.

Interstitial, mock behind-the-scenes clips depict production engineers dialing in the sound and video recording within a retro studio as Musgraves moves from “room” to “room” and song to song. There’s also the running narrative that she can’t find a particularly beloved star for her decorative tree.

Not losing spirit since her 2016 LP, ‘A Very Kacey Christmas,’ the 31-year-old’s pleasantly subdued, silken voice, the sonic equivalent of pastel, does so much with these songs. Rather than, like many singers on holiday duty, evoke an artificial Christmas spirit — she creates her own by accepting the music for what it is. As when performing her own material, she handles it carefully, not ambitiously, staying in her range while her voice pierces through our sentimental blockage and blurred seasonal virtues caused by generations of commercialism, reminding us that the holiday still exists outside of all that, and there’s far more to look forward to than gifts if we keep our ears open.

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