Haley Dreis has had a fairly prolific release schedule to date, with her album Beautiful To Me marking her debut in 2009 and remaining consistent with a variety of LPs, EPs, and singles ever since; Cozy Christmas marks her first time taking on holiday songs, and her voice feels perfect for it. Her warm, crisp vocals are such a great fit, listeners will wonder why she hadn’t done it sooner, even! Cozy Christmas is a fantastic addition to Dreis’ discography, giving audiences a way to enjoy the holiday spirit without listening to the same five songs you hear every single year. Her twist on the classics is a welcome change of pace, and even with the songs you might think you’ve heard a million times, you’ve never heard them like this.
Opening with the iconic as always “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” listeners are eased into the holiday spirit as Dreis delivers a faithful take on the tune. It’s a poignant opening track for a Christmas record and always sets the mood in any rendition or occasion. “I Can’t Wait For Christmas” comes next and serves as an original from Dreis’ own catalog — it’s a catchy, upbeat track that feels right at home among classics (so much that I had to double-take and make sure it was an original!). There’s a homegrown, nostalgic atmosphere to the track that gives it the feeling of a song you’ve already spent the holidays listening to, and it will certainly be a new entry on many Christmas playlists in the coming years. Dreis gives her own take on household Christmas anthems “Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night,” and “White Christmas” next, and all are incredibly tasteful and charming. Her spin on “Silent Night” is awe-inspiring with its gorgeous guitar accompaniment, the low notes complementing her vocal register in perfect harmony.
A big standout from the album is another Dreis original, “Christmas Cheer.” It’s one of the poppiest entries on the album and the chorus is something you’ll fight to get out of your head (to no avail.) It feels like another classic in the making, which is always great to say in regard to new Christmas songs! There’s a great, faithful rendition of “Jingle Bells” next, as well as a nice piano-driven “Winter Wonderland” that plays with the expected tempo, turning it into more of a slow-dance piece. There’s an incredible cover of the Joni Mitchell classic “River,” perhaps the most famous Christmas-adjacent Christmas song, which gives Cozy Christmas that extra emotional oomph.
“Holidays Are Hard (Rhodes Version)” is another emotional track that tugs on the heartstrings, living up to the title and tackling the turbulent subject of celebrating a holiday after losing someone. “Auld Lang Syne” closes the album out, and acts as a piece of emotional release after the last two tracks — Haley Dreis crafts a beautiful emotional arc with the end of Cozy Christmas that will give listeners a true feeling of the holiday spirit by the time they’ve listened to it all, and if ever played outside of the holidays, it’ll transport them right back to crisp December nights.