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Songs for Christmas

Sufjan Stevens

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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

Amazing.

Sufjan Stevens is an amazing musician, and i've known about him for some time now. This is by far the best Christmas album i've ever heard. His rendition of "Holy, Holy, Holy" leaves me breatheless everytime. 42 songs for $16 is an amazing deal. buy it.

bringing back the true spirit of christmas

In this work, Sufjan Stevens has arranged all of the Christmas songs we know and love without imposing upon us that commercial sound that so many Christmas albums bare. For those who love christmas songs, and want to have something to set the tone of the holiday season, this album is incredible. Stevens wrote it as a response to the overly secularized, and commercialized holiday, and this really comes out. The entire work is honest and exceptional. However, I recommend that you don't buy this album on itunes, because the liner notes and artwork in the album are great.

This is destined to be a classic

I'm not a big fan of alot of Stevens work and find most of his pieces overrated. That said, one has to admit that this is one of the best Christmas albums to come out in a very long time. The collected CDs here comprise what is destined to be a timless masterpiece. The arraingments, mood, sound quality get everything right on the mark. All of the artits from Stevens to Daniellson put their hearts and minds into it. I really cannot convey just how good this collection is. While it's impossible to have the stickers included with the online version it would have been nice to have had the book that came along with the phyiscal copy. The stories, illistrations, and the chord charts where an added plus. It's iceing on the cake but shouldn't disuade you from giving it a go. If you love good holiday music you'll love it. Don't hesitate to get this! -Bz

Biography

Born: July 1, 1975 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Alternative

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

A singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, 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 Came, his debut album, appeared in 2000, confirming his superior musical command, complex instrumentation, and sparkling...
Full Bio

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