This is Hit Inc / Wheelhouse Records
Release Date: October 16th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Christmas on the Radio
- Sleigh Ride
- O Holy Night
- When I Think About Christmas
- Let It Snow
Runaway June has been a band that has been up-and-coming for a few years, and it’s only been this year when I’ve been actively exploring the country music genre (through artists like Carrie Underwood, Lady A, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Martina McBride and Shania Twain, to name a few), that I came across this country-pop trio of Naomi Cooke, Jennifer Wayne, and Natalie Stovall. Runaway June reminds me of artists like Little Big Town, Point of Grace, even The McClymonts and The Chicks (f.k.a. the Dixie Chicks), and so as I started listening to this very unique and underrated band, I was to be reminded of a few things- one, that God works in ways that we don’t even know how, showing us varying musical styles and allowing us to enjoy a vast plethora of music, for our enjoyment but also for Him to speak to us in ways that we can only deem to be God-ordained- and hearing Runaway June this last year, it’s been a great thing to be reminded of uplifting songs like ‘We Were Rich’ and ‘Buy My Own Drinks’, and be encouraged of this notion of individuality as well as being thankful for the life we have led, no matter how rosy or dark it can seem, because in everything we experience, we are shaped, moulded and formed into the people we are today. While I sill haven’t gotten myself across all of the trio’s songs to date, what I have heard is enough for me to be excited for their debut Christmas EP, that dropped October 16th 2020, featuring 5 songs- 1 carol, 2 holiday tracks and 2 original songs. This is an EP, albeit a short one, that people can get behind if you’re a fan of country music, trios, vocal groups, or all of the above, as we are encouraged to leave our own very preconceptions of country music at the door; and be inspired to listen to the band at least once- you’ll be surprised about how much you may enjoy this EP, as I have these last few days!
‘…It’s been a long crazy year and working on this music has felt so liberating from the madness of the world. When we think about “Christmas” we think of family, peace, rest, love and reflection, gratitude, celebration and we wanted this music to be the soundtrack of what Christmas is to us and hopefully spread a little of that to all of you through this project. We are so excited to share with you our Christmas EP, “When I Think About Christmas” it will be out everywhere 10/16…’ With the lone carol on the EP being ‘O Holy Night’, I am pleased at the selection. My favourite Christmas carol ever, ‘O Holy Night’ embodies a lot of what Christmas really is all about. Jesus came, Jesus lived, was the perfect person we could never be, died the death we deserved, was buried for three days and rose again for the world to see. And Christmas is the time for us to celebrate his coming to Earth as the beginning of this justification process of which his ministry, death and resurrection was a part of. ‘O Holy Night’ is a reminder of this, and Runaway June provides a version, that, while omitting the 2nd verse, still presents it with such fervour and passion, enthusiasm and heart. ‘Let It Snow’ and ‘Sleigh Ride’ are the two holiday tracks, and presented to us with a jovial and upbeat atmosphere, as both these renditions of the song never really stray too far from the original versions of the tracks (well, ‘Sleigh Ride, the famous one we all know, is actually a version by the Ronettes, and Runaway June presents the song akin to that version instead of the one originally recorded); while it is in these holiday songs that we as listeners are reminded of the message of Christmas for anyone who doesn’t necessarily ascribe to the Christian faith, but still want to celebrate the season for familial reasons instead. The EP then rounds out with two original songs- ‘Christmas on the Radio’ is a fun and nostalgic song, even though it’s a Runaway June original, as the track evokes memories of Christmases past as we look upon the fond memories of years gone, as we try to recreate a ‘normal’ Christmas for 2020, while ‘When I Think About Christmas’ amps up the jazz to 11, as we see the persona thinking about Christmas and the loved ones they are spending the season with. We are reminded that Christmas matters in who you spend it with, and that during a time of uncertainty of 2020 with COVID-19, this song is a great reminder to always find time for people who you love and love you unconditionally.
‘…we’ve been able to create a lot and having the Christmas EP be the first project on the docket has been really fun and joyful. It’s not hard at all [to get in the] Christmas spirit. I’m obsessed with Christmas. I got all of my Christmas clothes down out of the closet and I’ve been wearing them into the studio every day … I’m very protective of Christmas music. I’m not always a fan of original Christmas music. The original Christmas songs that y’all already had that we were considering, they are so good and they already sound like classics to me. So I was really excited about that…’ Runaway June is a great up-and-coming band, that is one to look out for in 2021, not just in the country music scene, but in all music, period. This is a trio that harkens back to similar music artists of years past, from The McClymonts, Lady A and Little Big Town, to Point of Grace, and The Chicks, even other newer artists like Lauren Alaina and Lindsay Ell remind me of who this trio sounds like. And that is all a very good thing, being likened to these artists. And maybe, sometimes it’s hard to judge a band’s sound on their Christmas offerings- because Christmas music, even across musical genres, sounds very similar. For maybe, just maybe, check out their first album Blue Roses at least once, and if you’re like me, be excited for their sophomore album, whenever that may be. Well done Naomi, Natalie and Jennifer for this enjoyable, albeit short, EP. Can’t wait for the new album, whenever it comes!
3 songs to listen to: Christmas on the Radio, When I Think About Christmas, O Holy Night
RIYL: Lindsay Ell, Little Big Town, Lauren Alaina, Lady A, The Chicks, The McClymonts