They cover Merle Haggard’s “If We Make it Through December,” sing a Christmas classic in “Sleigh Ride,” but most of these songs are actually originals written by the trio and it comes through pretty obviously, that’s for sure.
I think a lot of us tend to roll our eyes at the thought of another country Christmas album, because it often feels like they’re just throwing something out there when there’s no other new music to release at the end of the year, but this project feels a little more substantial than most.
Their harmonies and vocals are off the charts, per the usual, and it’s refreshing to have a collection of holiday songs you probably won’t hear incessantly at Target or waiting in line at Starbucks for the next few months.
My favorite song on the whole record, “Happy Birthday,” is a funny, cynical, sarcastic commentary on the not-so-fun parts of Christmas that is your quintessential Pistol Annies in terms of attitude, sass and honesty.
They cover the stresses of dealing with certain family members, getting all the presents together for everyone on your list by December 25th, and pointing out the obvious that the real reason for the season somehow tends to get lost in everything else going on this time of year.
Of course, a little bit of alcohol in the hot chocolate always helps:
“I’m tangled all up in this tinsel I’m tipsy on peppermint schnapps I’m trying to be so sentimental It’s hard to be something I’m not It’s Christmas Eve and I’m done
I’m wiping the dust off the mantel Stuffing the stockings with junk My mama showed up with a handle And her boyfriend of the month It’s Christmas Eve and she’s drunk”
The other one I loved right away, “Harlan County Coal”, starts off with a very Annies take on the classic Christmas poem The Night Before Christmas:
“‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house Not a creature was sober, ‘specially not my spouse”
Then, they get into the struggle of trying to make ends meet during the holiday season. From the stress of getting the house together for company, getting the decorations put up, and making it all perfect for everybody else, it can be more trouble than fun sometimes.
It’s all made extra challenging with a husband who won’t seem to straighten up and help with the preparation, and because of that, is likely to end up with a big ole chunk of coal in his stocking this year:
And, if you want a good old fashioned country song you can listen to all year, check out “Joy”:
Lastly, of course, their beautiful cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make it Through December”: