Arlington singer-songwriter Kristen Palmer was discouraged every time she moved somewhere new as a kid, but family traditions kept her spirits up.
Her parents and four siblings — who were all musical — often gathered around the piano to sing Christmas songs during the holidays. It helped make the upheavals every two years more bearable as her father, a pastor, built churches around the country.
“Moving around and changing our friends, school, church and sometimes leaving family was extremely difficult,” she said. “The constant sources of joy and connection in those times was the music.”
The family eventually settled in Arlington after her father helped build View Ridge Community Church in Everett.
Palmer, 31, a singer and songwriter who fuses pop rock, soul and jazz, never forgot the love and warmth of singing with family at Christmastime. She tapped those feelings for her latest release, “A Homemade Holiday,” featuring three covers of her favorite holiday songs: “Jingle Bells,” “We Three Kings” and “Auld Lang Syne.” She’ll perform “Jingle Bells” and “We Three Kings” live at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Moe’s On Olympic in Arlington, along with her original music.
“The idea around this project was to really embrace the idea of tradition,” she said. “We went into a studio, which was very cozy and twinkly, and went around the piano while a couple of my friends sang with me. Hopefully, it makes people feel warm and cozy inside.”
The EP includes backing vocals from Seattle’s Chantel Bailey and Charles Wicklander, who also played piano. The resulting collaboration is mellow, with some dramatic highs and soothing lows.
Wicklander, 30, said Palmer’s deep timbre meshes well with the jazz-influenced chords on piano.
“It’s pretty lush,” Wicklander said. “She has her own style. It’s sultry, but comforting at the same time.”
“A Homemade Holiday” is Palmer’s first holiday recording. She formed a Seattle-based rock band called Lady Gray in 2006 and sang lead vocals, then started releasing music as a solo artist in 2014.
Her career recieved a boost in 2013 when she landed a job at Robert Lang Studios in Seattle. At the studio, she provided backing vocals for local musicians and wrote her own music.
She has since released two singles, while she also been featured on songs by Snohomish folk artist Bradford Loomis, British acoustic singer-songwriter Tony Hill and Olympia’s The Olson Brothers Band.
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Palmer said she adds some Southern influence to her songs. She takes notes from Norah Jones and Brandi Carlile, who she said inspire her to create authentic music.
At the Dec. 20 concert, Palmer will perform with her brothers, Ben Tapper, 28, of Arlington, and Landon Tapper, 24, of Stanwood. There also will be a food drive for the Arlington Community Food Bank.
“It will truly feel like a hometown holiday,” she said.
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
Kristen Palmer will perform “A Homemade Holiday” and original music at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Moe’s On Olympic, 434 N. Olympic Ave., Arlington. More about the artist, including where you can stream her EP, at www.kristenpalmersings.com.