By James Barker, Staff Writer
Earlier this year I got to interview Jessie Standafer and Alexa Wilkinson, a wonderful country duo called Mother’s Daughter, who gave us the queer answer to Dolly Parton’s “Sugar Hill” with their tune “Give It Time.” I was delighted when I heard about their latest holiday EP: Home for the Holidays. On Home, Jessie and Alexa are joined by musicians Meghan Rose on piano and Sharon Cha on Cello, who donated their session fees to The Loveland Foundation (an organization with a particular focus on Black women and girls.)
It’s great to hear the band’s intricate banjo playing and harmonies against this kind of musical backdrop. Home for the Holidays reflects all the conflicting moods of this time of year, and with openly queer lyrics this is the perfect queer country soundtrack to the 2020 holiday season.
The EP wraps you up in its snowy soundscape, and nowhere better than on the opening track “Winter in New York” where Alexa and Jessie are joined by Meghan Rose on piano. The duo’s tight harmonies give the EP a compelling dynamic between holiday warmth and holiday longing. “This Christmas” presents that tension well by remembering festive disappointments and sadness of previous years (“Last Christmas my heart was blue”), and hoping that this year will be different.
It’s a time of year, especially in 2020, that can be lonely as well, especially if home does not always live up to its promise of love, safety and acceptance. The EP’s title track gives voice to those feeling of heartbreak and loneliness and the hopes for the healing warmth of being with those we love and who love us.
Holiday albums can sometimes be a bit ‘one note’, which, for all their festive cheer, can leave me out in the cold. Mother’s Daughter’s stripped-back version of Mariah Carey’s classic “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is a reminder, amongst all of the loud noise and dazzling lights, that holiday cheer can be quiet yet still burn bright.
Home for the Holidays is available now on all major streaming services.