The High Plains Drifters “Alone on Christmas Day”

For a lot of music lovers in the west, it just isn’t Christmastime until that special seasonal soundtrack is pouring out of the stereo, and it is in this spirit that we find the new single from The High Plains Drifters, “Alone on Christmas Day” ready to please audiences around the globe this month. HPD issued a killer album in 2019’s The High Plains Drifters that raised a lot of eyebrows within the indie community, but with “Alone on Christmas Day,” the band goes in a slightly more traditional direction on their mission to conceive a simple, easy listening holiday song. This crew does a magnificent job, and you don’t have to be the biggest Christmas buff around to agree.


Much like the tracks we hear on The High Plains Drifters LP, this single exhibits singer Larry Studnicky’s trademark attention to detail and further highlights just how texturally expressive his songwriting can be when it is at its most unrestrained. There’s no debate as to whether or not the lyrics are the centerpiece here, but concerning the overall construction of the song, I can’t pinpoint which of the different instrumental elements is the strongest of the lot – they’re all so powerful, though not quite abrasive, in their execution of a joint melody.

The bass parts in and around the chorus could have used a little more of a kick, but aside from this small surface flaw, I think that “Alone on Christmas Day” might be one of the most technically efficient recordings that The High Plains Drifters has stuck their moniker on so far. This group is considerably more stringent with indulgent components than many of their poppier competitors are, but they are never so meticulous in composing that we wind up getting something spindly, unfeeling, or inauthentic in tone. Our main man here cares too much about his medium for that to happen, and his devotion is made more than obvious in this single.

Almost everything in “Alone on Christmas Day” is structured around Studnicky’s lead vocal, and rightly so; it’s by far the best and brightest gem in the song. There’s not a lot of boost in the EQ, but there doesn’t need to be; from the moment that we first make contact with his opening verse to the second that his voice disappears into the silence from which it came, his singing sounds and feels like a physical entity occupying center stage with a strength that was somewhat overlooked in his first album (but available to us just the same). He’s got a golden set of pipes, and they’re being put to work excellently in this release.

For those of us who just can’t get enough of those magical holiday harmonies, The High Plains Drifters are bringing a Christmas treasure in “Alone on Christmas Day” that I’m certain Mr. Claus won’t mind you opening up a little early this year. Non-religious but rich with a righteousness that allows for it to blend in with both spiritual and secular playlists easily, HPD’s wonderful winter submission is a great way of getting to know the band’s softer side.

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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