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. 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”). The Nashville based gospel singers The McCrary Sisters join her on several songs on the album.
A Real Tree This Year
Let's Get Away (Feat. the McCrary Sisters)
Home to Me
Blame It on the Mistletoe
Slow Falling Snow
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
Gone for Christmas (Feat. the McCrary Sisters)
Wish for You
Always Christmas Around Here (Feat. Lawrence Rothman)
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