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Songs for Christmas

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Album Review

Like Avalanche, Songs for Christmas is nothing if not eclectic. A whole sleigh-load of carols and original tunes collected from 2001 to 2006, these songs were written and recorded off the cuff, and naturally many of them feel a little ragged and underdone. But they're far more mature than any of the songs on A Sun Came, and there are moments of quirky holiday splendor — moments akin to some of the best material on Greetings from Michigan and Illinoise — that make plowing through the entire five-EP set a pleasure. If you're worried that Sufjan Stevens will sound a trifle predictable or indulgent covering traditionals like "Silent Night," your worries are justified. Recorders, oboes, glockenspiels, and banjos abound, and Stevens approaches these songs with the same vulnerability, preciousness, and weird religious overtones (à la Seven Swans) as he has on his previous work. That aside, "O Holy Night" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel" are deeply affecting, especially because they rely on Stevens' idiosyncratic arrangements and frail voice. The real sugarplums, though, are the original tunes. "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" is all meandering banjos and luminous harmonies reminiscent of "Romulus" and "Casimir Pulaski Day," and the jumpy "Get Behind Me, Santa!" reaches "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" heights with some of the best Santa-related lyrics the world has yet known ("You're a bad brother breakin' into people's garages!"). Stevens fans will love Songs for Christmas. Unabashedly, almost frighteningly, with the kind of glee normally attributed to a certain jolly old elf, fans will revel in this little blue box with its silver lettering and scribbly Christmas art. In addition to 42 shiny new tracks, the lucky recipients of Songs for Christmas will also receive: An animated short by Tom Eaton! One (mildly creepy) poster of Stevens in full holiday regalia! Two short stories by Stevens! A weird essay by Rick Moody! And a complete singalong book for the entire EP set! Not to mention stickers! And comics! Songs for Christmas is a veritable stocking's worth of doodads and oddities lovingly embroidered with Stevens' kitschy crayon drawings, scribbly pencil sketches, and extra-long song titles. Which adds up to one merry Christmas indeed for Sufjan Stevens fans.

Customer Reviews

Christmas songs rediscovered all over again!

At first I was skeptical about another Christmas CD because we know how that can destroy a career. But Sufjan has brilliantly reworked these classics and has incorporated his personal sound that brings them to life in a way that isn't cheesy. Although more costly than the average album, the 42 songs are certainly a bargain and you don't find yourself hearing the album start over after an hour.

best christmas album

This album gives you what feels like a couple hours of christmas music. It is perfect for background music for Christmas morning or a mellower dinner. It's not slick, or over-produced sounding and like his other albums it can be listened to again and again. Buy it for "The Gentle Beasts" and "Oh Come Emmanuel" which are beautiful and original Christmas songs.

Original Christmas

I adore this set. While there are 3 versions of O Come, O Come Emmanuel and 2 of Rose E'er Blooming, each version is beautiful. Sufjan takes in each classic, and gives you something new and and appropriately festive. Even his original yuletide songs become old favourites. Sister Winter is perhaps my favourite. However, I recommend buying the box-set or 5 CDs if you can, because it comes with fun stickers and a booklet with chords and lyrics for the songs.


Born: July 01, 1975 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose music deals with both the personal and the spiritual while accompanied by simple but striking musical patterns, Detroit-born Sufjan Stevens started venturing into the music world while attending Hope College as a member of Marzuki, a folk-rock band based in Holland, Michigan. Following the release of two full-length albums with the group, Stevens decided to go solo in late 1999, investing fully in a career that was waiting to shine by itself. Sun...
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