The Christmas folk tune originally debuted on Mitchell's 1971 album Blue

By Darlene Aderoju
November 11, 2020 11:00 AM
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Jackie Evancho is pouring out her heart on her latest music cover.

On Wednesday, the singer, 20, released the all-new music video for her rendition of Joni Mitchell's hit song "River" — PEOPLE has the exclusive premiere.

"When I first heard this song, I was immediately struck by the sadness of losing your love during a time of the year when you need them the most," Evancho tells PEOPLE. "I was introduced to the world of Joni Mitchell and it led me to many more incredible songs in her repertoire. The beauty of this song has profoundly touched me."

Evancho's new music video is fitting for the Christmas folk tune that originally debuted on Mitchell's 1971 album Blue. It is the second most-remade song the Canadian singer-songwriter has ever released.

Jackie Evancho
| Credit: courtesy jackie evancho

In the black and white visual, a melancholy Evancho sings throughout a desolate city as she harmonizes the holiday love song that has a sad twist. She begins: "It's coming on Christmas / They're cutting down trees / They're putting up reindeer / And singing songs of joy and peace / Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on."

As the track progresses, it becomes clear that Evancho is singing about heartache. "I wish I had a river so long / I would teach my feet to fly / Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on / I made my baby cry," croons the vocalist.

Jackie Evancho "River"
| Credit: Courtesy Jackie Evancho

She goes on: "He tried hard to help me / You know, he put me at ease / And he loved me so naughty / Made me weak in the knees / Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on / I'm so hard to handle / I'm selfish and I'm sad / Now I've gone and lost the best baby that I ever had / I wish I had a river I could skate away on."

At one point, Evancho sings passionately as she walks through an abandoned alley scantly lined with Christmas ornaments. In another scene suited for the track, Evancho sits on a cliff as she somberly overlooks a river.

In celebration of Mitchell's 77th birthday Saturday, the singer paid homage to the icon. "Happy Birthday Joni Mitchell! Thank you for inspiring me to sing 'River,'" she captioned her Instagram post.

One day after releasing her soulful rendition, Evancho gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at her recording session.

"There's something about hearing you sing Christmas songs again that makes my heart smile ❤️," one person commented on her Instagram post.

"Love this! Thanks for sharing! ❤☝️🎙🎶," another wrote. "Beautiful cover of the song. Can’t wait to get your new CD next year! :)," a third person added.