Kacey Musgraves is often praised for keeping certain country traditions alive but, even so, the retro vibe of A Very Kacey Christmas may come as a bit of a shock. Musgraves crafts her holiday album -- arriving just three records into her career, a relatively swift event -- as an homage to the swinging sounds of mid-century modern, cannily blending lounge with a hint of exotica. Musgraves doesn't spend much time with shopworn standards, opening the record with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Let It Snow!" before taking a series of left turns.
Kacey Musgraves continues to follow her arrow. In 2013, she built her reputation as an antidote to all that was said to be ailing country music: a traditionalist of unobtrusively twangy arrangements and a credible small-town Texas background, who was also slyly progressive in her down-home narratives. She cowrote Miranda Lambert’s deliciously vengeful mini-masterpiece “Mama’s Broken Heart” and released her own major-label debut, Same Trailer Different Park, which beat out Taylor Swift and the genre’s swaggering bros to win the Best Country Album Grammy.
The annual deluge of holiday releases seems to have a broader than usual range, from Georgian singer Katie Melua’s offering with Russian and Eastern European elements to R&B crooner R. Kelly’s pleasant surprise of a Christmas collection. There’s also the usual bevy of country artists weighing in, a class that includes Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Kacey Musgraves, Loretta Lynn and Reba.