If you’re hankering for a booze-soaked soiree to conjure the ghost of college Christmas parties past, Molly Burch is cooking up just the thing.
The Austin singer-songwriter’s new record, “The Molly Burch Christmas Album,” and Dec. 13 tie-in show at Scholz Garten both were inspired by her very first live gig — a blowout holiday bash she hosted her junior year of college at the University of North Carolina in Asheville.
Burch and three of her music program classmates performed as the Lonely Christmas Band, and it became an annual tradition.
“It was my first taste of being in a band,” Burch says of her first house shows. Those early yuletide parties sparked the idea to record a Christmas album, she adds.
Burch’s velvety vocals are a natural fit for classic holiday songs, though she made an effort to include nontraditional wintry songs and deep cuts on her record. Of the 12-song track list, only three might be considered canonical holiday songs (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “Auld Lang Syne”), and one is a pop favorite (Wham’s “Last Christmas,” which also inspired a movie starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding this year).
“My goal was to have a balance of classic songs that most people know, and then I wanted to have deeper cuts or even songs that you wouldn’t necessarily see on a Christmas album, because I wanted to appeal to everybody and make an album that you could put on in November and not feel super annoyed that Christmas music is on,” she says.
The California native, who has made Austin her home since 2013, played up the Lone Star State connection with “Snowqueen of Texas” (originally recorded by the Mamas & the Papas) and “Hard Candy Christmas” (famously performed by Dolly Parton in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”). “Happy New Year,” meanwhile, is an ABBA song.
Burch also recorded two original songs for the album: the wistful, romantic “Holiday Dreaming” and “New Year Love,” both of which are similar in tone to the rest of her catalog.
Burch’s silky-smooth voice sounds great on a ballad. But for this record, the most fun performance at the Scholz Garten show might be “Last Christmas,” especially if the secret special guests teased for the evening are comedians Kate Berlant and John Early. The duo ad-libbed a bit in the recording studio for Burch’s rendition and also star in a silly music video that helped Burch kick off the record’s promotion.
“Kate Berlant and John Early are friends of mine,” she says. “I always wanted to do something with them, and this seemed like the perfect thing. When we were recording, originally, it wasn’t going to be a music video. I was just getting behind-the-scenes footage. But then we were like, ‘This should really be a video.’ Watching them improvise is the funniest thing in the world.”
For the Scholz Garten show, Burch has partnered with voter outreach group Headcount, so attendees can register to vote at the show, and charitable giving organization Plus1.