Have you had enough of the near constant loop of the same Christmas songs played over and over again on Sirius, Spotify and Apple Music playlists? There’s much more to be heard if you venture left of the dial. We’ve corralled a few into our sleigh and deliver them to you below. Happy, sad, melancholic, funny, somber and joyous… all the emotions are here. Merry Christmas!
The Imaginaries- “Hometown Christmas”
The Imaginaries (Shane Henry and Maggie McClure) celebrate the simplicity and joy of a “Hometown Christmas” on the title track of their new holiday album. The Oklahoma husband and wife duo traveled to Chickasha, OK where Shane grew up to film the video, with assistance from locals and the town Economic Development Council. The result is a wholesome Christmas card love letter to the wonders of small-town life.
Lauren Calve: “Christmas Is Where The Heart Is”
Americana artist Lauren Calve borrows the phrase “home is where the heart is” and expands upon its deeper meanings in the pedal steel tinged original “Christmas Is Where The Heart Is.”
“I wrote this song during the 2019 holiday season when I was pretty severely depressed. In each verse, I tried to make sense of all that was weighing on me that year: a death in the family, the deepening estrangement of a family member, the East-to-West Coast move of my closest friend, among other things.
“Christmas isn’t so much a place, a series of traditions, or even the overplayed yet comforting songs; Christmas is a time to be fully human. It’s a time to love, forgive, mourn and hope.”
John Mark Nelson: “Good To Be Home”
Songwriter/producer John Mark Nelson creates a warm and peaceful musical atmosphere on “Good To Be Home.” The Minnesota native, who now resides in Los Angeles, surely knows the beauty of winter. “Good To Be Home,” with its soft electric guitar lines and lush Norah Jones-like feel, is a welcoming musical soundtrack for a night spent on a comfortable couch next to a crackling fireplace.
“This year more than maybe any other,” Nelson says, “we are all longing for something normal, familiar, something that feels like home. With the familiar bustle of holiday travel seeming more and more impossible, this song draws on the memories of Holiday seasons past to call back to mind the feeling of reuniting with the ones you love most, feeling, if only for a moment, home.”
Julia Jacklin- “baby jesus is nobody’s baby now”
Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin was hoping for a better 2020 when she wrote her tender, melancholic holiday single, “baby jesus is nobody’s baby now.” The award-winning artist spent most of last year touring for her new record and when Christmas 2019 came along, so did the massive Australian brushfires, which kept her away from her family. Not exactly the reset a new year typically brings, and then… 2020 happened.
“I was imagining Christmas as being this time where we all came together again and took a collective breath but then the bushfires hit, and my family live in the country, so it was a direct threat. I was living in Melbourne, still pretty new to it, and wasn’t able to go home. The roads were blocked and my family were being evacuated periodically for a month. At one point, Melbourne was blanketed in smoke from the fires, the sun was this menacing red, it felt apocalyptic and pretty hopeless. I wrote this in my room looking forward to 2020, hoping it would be a reset of some kind. lol.”
Jacklin’s Christmas single follows the previously-released 7” Julia released for the Sub Pop Singles Club, Vol. 5, consisting of tracks “to Perth, before the border closes” + “CRY.”
Stream and buy the song at https://smarturl.it/jesusisnobodysbaby
The Poportunists with Michael Longoria: Christmas With Covid
It had to be written- a rousing show tune number about Christmas in the Year of Covid. NY’s Poportunists team with Broadway’s Jersey Boys star Michael Longoria and tackle the realities of “Christmas With Covid.” Disinfectant, Zoom calls, quarantining and masks have replaced chestnuts roasting, happy golden days, caroling and kisses under the mistletoe.
Lyricist Jed Becker knocks it out of the park with clever observations of the new most wonderful time of the year, and Longoria delivers an emotive performance which shows why he is an acclaimed Broadway star.
Obsessively cleaning and continued quarantining
Is the opposite of festive and gay
So I’ll grumble and groan/And get drunk all alone
Like I’ve been doing every single day
I can’t hold your sweet face/ or share your warm embrace
If we can’t be in the same room
So let’s raise a glass and throw each other kisses over Zoom
Jillette Johnson: “Cancel Christmas”
If you’re just a little bummed that Christmas this year isn’t like Christmases past, Jillette Johnson feels you. The Nashville singer/songwriter put pen to paper and laid down our collective thoughts. Just 24 hours later, “Cancel Christmas” was born.
Cancel Christmas this year/ It’s just not quite the same without the gang in town
It’s not Christmas this year/ It’s just another day that I’ll be hanging round the house again alone
“I miss my family and I wrote a Christmas song about it a couple weeks ago. I recorded it in my house and decided to just put it out because I figure a lot of people may be feeling the same way right now.”
Bandcamp link: https://jillettejohnson.bandcamp.com/track/cancel-christmas
Tommy Byrne: Christmas Means More This Year
New Jersey’s Tommy Byrne enlists a solid roster of Jersey music veterans to participate in a new original song, “Christmas Means More This Year.” Byrne plans to donate all proceeds from the sale of the single, available here and on Bandcamp to Holiday Express, a Jersey Shore volunteer organization that visits homeless shelters, handicap facilities, veteran’s hospitals and more to deliver gifts, Christmas cheer and a full music concert.
“In what has been a tough year for everyone, we all know somebody that lost someone, I hope this song brightens your spirits,” Byrne said. “It was a labor of love for so many involved in this project.”
“This song was written in about 20 minutes back on Halloween weekend, when I found out that my friend and bandmate was in hospice care. The scratch I recorded would be the last song he’d ever hear of mine. It’s dedicated to Gary Trippiedi. I miss you my friend and think about you often. I hope you’re smiling down on us. You were in the choir filled with angels, along with the late Pat Toner.
“This song was written by me, mixed and produced by Joe Arminio of Arminio Studios and mastered by Chris Everett.”