An alternative view on the holidays: as part of my series of Christmas album reviews, I look into For Christmas by Amanda Shires in this review. She released her songs about Santa Clause and his pals on 12th November 2021.
Amanda Shires – About The Artist
Amanda Shires is a US-American singer-songwriter, who was born in Lubbock, Texas on 5th March 1982. She is majorly doing all kinds of Americana genres. She is releasing music as a solo artist since 2005, when she published her first debut album Being Brave. Her last solo album so far has been the 2018 album To The Sunset. However, Shires became famous as part of two collaborations. She released six albums with Jason Isbell (partially with Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit). In addition, she is a founding member of the female country music supergroup The Highwomen. For Christmas is her ninth solo album overall.
Amanda Shires – For Christmas – Track by Track
The eleven song album lasts 39 minutes.
1. Magic Ooooooh (feat. The McCrary Sisters)
The album starts with the catching opener Magic Ooooooh. The Nashville gospel quartet The McCrary Sisters, who join Shires for a couple of songs on this album, add a nice additional holiday touch to the song. Nice song, which has some decent references to other Christmas songs.
2. A Real Tree This Year
Plastic or natural – that’s a discussion I had a couple of times with my wife as well. Amanda Shires obviously goes for the second option this year. The song is a lovely Americana Christmas song with a nice groove, a chorus, which easily stays in your mind – and excellent work on the keys.
3. Let’s Get Away (feat. The McCrary Sisters)
One of the characteristics of For Christmas is that it is not only looking at the good sides of the holidays. This slower song clearly states Let’s get away from Christmas this year – and thus also takes a view which likely quite many people share on the holidays.
4. Home To Me
Home To Me is one the releases Amanda Shires did before the album. The song is very focused on her vocals (and does a great job there). Really nice listen.
5. Blame It On The Mistletoe (feat. The McCrary Sisters)
The best merry Christmas when you showed up – the fifth song is a love story under the mistletoe. The assistance by the gospel quartet works out well – and turns to the song to one of my favorites on the album.
6. Slow Falling Snow
Amanda Shires is really delivering a versatile Christmas soundtrack, which is also suitable to listen to during your own time with your family. One example for a very differently arranged track is the intimate piano ballad Slow Falling Snow – I simply have to listen to her during these 3:40 minutes.
7. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
This outlook to the party following Christmas has a lovely touch of swing. The drum brushes are giving the rhythm, the organ is adding the melody and make Amanda Shires sound a bit like a stage diva. Cool one.
8. Silent Night
While there have been originals on the album so far only, is Amanda Shires now falling back to the masses of Christmas traditional song-cover albums published every year? Already the dramatic piano beginning and the dark beginning lyrics tell you: Silent night, nothing’s calm, nothing’s been bright. A very dark look on the holiday – which by that becomes one of the most impressive listens of the album. The original is lending the melodies – but the story is a completely new one.
9. Gone For Christmas (feat. The McCrary Sisters)
After this dark moment, the following Gone For Christmas is the complete opposite. The song is full of soul and thus also feels to be a perfect match to the voices of the McCrary Sisters. Definitely the best collaboration with the gospel quartet on this album. And yeah, the song rocks as well.
10. Wish For You
I hope that you
Get everything you want
Or at least
What you need
And I hope that it goes
exactly you want it to
When it happens easily
The only wish I have for me
Is that all of mine for you come true
The second last song on the album is a melodic beauty. Almost a bit of folk touch. The song feels very familar, but Amanda Shires adds something special to it. Lovely storytelling.
11. Always Christmas Around Here (feat. Lawrence Rothman)
The album closes with a song which is as country music as it gets on the album. A nice closing track with a nice message. Good listen.
Amanda Shires – For Christmas – Spotify
Here is the album on Spotify:
Amanda Shires – For Christmas – My View
Amanda Shires takes us on a very personal x-mas journey. Thirteen songs, really nicely written and performed. Not too many of these classics, but nice winter and holiday stories. I really love it, the quality of the album is much better than the mass Santa Clause mainstream which currently feels to be produced too frequently.
Country Music Christmas
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