Credit: Stephanie Rudig

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HO HO WHO: Kathleen Edwards, the Canadian alt-country star who stepped back from the music industry about five years ago, and began a coffee shop called Quitters in Ottawa. “It’s Christmastime (Let’s Just Survive)” is the first new song Edwards has put out since her critically hailed 2012 album Voyageur.

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SURVIVAL MODE: If the lyrics are in any way autobiographical, releasing this track probably got Edwards uninvited from the holiday celebration “where we all descend to my parents’ house in [Ottawa’s] West End. The plaintively sung, slow-paced ballad recounts a day with her squabbling parents, drunk uncle, pothead aunt, and a cat who pisses on presents. 

CHRISTMAS IN THE ALT-COUNTRY: Edwards belongs to a genre marked by rock vocals, heart-on-sleeve songwriting, and virtuosic Nashville musicianship. But there aren’t many women at the top in alt-country, and they’ve been lonely without Edwards. Fans will hear the opening chords on a slide guitar and sigh with relief that Edwards is back, along with her longtime backing musician and producer Jim Bryson.  

CHEER FACTOR: 1/10. But the realness factor is 10/10. Carols and uptempo bops aren’t the only catchy holiday earworms. Listen to “It’s Christmastime (Let’s Just Survive)” more than once and the titular, mournful refrain will get stuck in your head.  Edwards closes out the song with a chorus of cat meows, and if that doesn’t make you smile wryly, watching the song’s animated video, complete with cat piss, will. 

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