Martin Earley of The Ballroom Thieves says that writing a holiday song in the middle of the summer was strange at first, but after the way this year started, looking ahead to the holiday season became a welcome diversion. "It helped distract us after we spent two months glued to the news," he says. "So it was the good kind of strange."

"(anywhere but) Home for the Holidays" is a moody but festive tune cloaked in heavy holiday vibes to hide the claustrophobia experienced after a year of quarantine. What it doesn't bother to hide is a wanderlust that's so strong it'll have you wishing that you were anywhere but home for the holidays right now.

In February 2020, Earley, Calin Peters, and Devin Mauch were ramping up for a prosperous year on the road to support the release of their new album Unlovely. But as live music and touring went on an indefinite hiatus due to the pandemic, the folk trio instead found themselves confined to their homes in Maine with a critically-acclaimed album and nowhere to go but a different room in the house.

"We loved to come home for the holidays after a year on the road," Earley tells me. "This year, we've been stuck at home, and it didn't seem like we would be escaping anywhere for the holidays."

For many, holiday music is sacrilegious, each note whipping up a fit of nostalgia we get to live in at the end of each year. So, I can't help but wonder if there's a space in the Christmas song canon for a tune like "(anywhere but) Home for the Holidays" — one that unapologetically documents a holiday season marred by a challenging and unforgiveable year. "The world already has so many jolly, cheesy holiday songs," Earley says. "There's room for a little timely melancholy."