Songs for Christmas

Songs for Christmas

4.5 4
by Sufjan Stevens
     
 

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,…  See more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
The season's most thrilling holiday release. (A)

Product Details

Release Date:
11/21/2006
Label:
Asthmatic Kitty
UPC:
0656605602820
catalogNumber:
28

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Silent Night
  2. O Come O Come Emmanuel
  3. We're Goin' to the Country!
  4. Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming
  5. It's Christmas! Let's Be Glad!
  6. Holy Holy, Etc.
  7. Amazing Grace

Disc 2

  1. Angels We Have Heard on High
  2. Put the Lights on the Tree
  3. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  4. I Saw Three Ships
  5. Only at Christmas Time
  6. Once in Royal David's City
  7. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
  8. What Child Is This Anyway?
  9. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella

Disc 3

  1. O Come O Come Emmanuel
  2. Come on! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!
  3. We Three Kings
  4. O Holy Night
  5. That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!
  6. Ding! Dong!
  7. All the King's Horns
  8. The Friendly Beasts

Disc 4

  1. The Little Drummer Boy
  2. Away in a Manger
  3. Hey Guys! It's Christmas Time!
  4. The First Noel
  5. Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)
  6. The Incarnation
  7. Joy to the World

Disc 5

  1. Once in Royal David's City
  2. Get Behind Me, Santa!
  3. Jingle Bells
  4. Christmas in July
  5. Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming
  6. Jupiter Winter
  7. Sister Winter
  8. O Come O Come Emmanuel
  9. Star of Wonder
  10. Holy, Holy, Holy
  11. The Winter Solstice

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sufjan Stevens   Primary Artist,Organ,Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass,Flute,Percussion,Piano,Chimes,Drums,Glockenspiel,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Oboe,Hammond Organ,Electric Piano,Recorder,Tambourine,Vocals,Narrator,Bells,Vibes,Shaker,fender rhodes,sleigh bells,Telephone Voice,Applause
Denison Witmer   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Laura Myers   Background Vocals
Matt Morgan   Banjo,Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
James McAlister   Percussion,Celeste,Drums,Vibraslap,Wind Chimes
Monique Aiuto   Vocals,Background Vocals,Laughs
Vito Aiuto   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Laughs
Shara Worden   Track Performer
Maria Bella Jeffers   Cello
Rob Moose   Violin
Bridgit DeCook   Vocals
C.J. Camerieri   Trumpet
Ben Lanz   Trombone
Colin Stevens   Background Vocals
Naho Tsutsui   Violin
Shara Warden   Vocals

Technical Credits

Harry Simeone   Composer
Henry John Gauntlett   Composer
Katherine Davis   Composer
John Newton   Composer
Henry Onorati   Composer
Isaac Watts   Composer
Lowell Mason   Composer
Charles Wesley   Composer
Cecil Frances Alexander   Composer
Denison Witmer   Engineer
Laura Myers   Engineer
Traditional   Composer
Sufjan Stevens   Arranger,Composer,Lyricist,Engineer,Liner Notes,Cover Art,Drawing,Reverb
Matt Morgan   Arranger,Engineer
Casey Foubert   Engineer
James R. Murray   Composer
John Henry Hopkins   Composer
Monique Aiuto   Engineer
Vito Aiuto   Engineer
Shara Worden   Engineer
Stephen Halker   Cover Illustration
Rick Moody   Liner Notes
Bridgit DeCook   Engineer
Reginald Heber   Composer
Jacques Bredy   Paintings
Colin Stevens   Engineer
Shara Warden   Contributor
Tom Eaton   Illustrations,Animation,Video Stills

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Customer Reviews

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Songs for Christmas 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
most people deliberating whether or not to buy this album are probably already sufjan stevens fans but are wondering, "is it really worth the 25 bucks to buy this box set?" the answer is yes. as the description states, what comes with this set is: 5 EPs, all of which are about 20 minutes long--the music is pleasant and sweet, although there's nothing SPECTACULAR about the music "quite honestly if you've heard one EP you've heard them all". but what makes the package worth it is everything else: a cool music video on the second disc, extensive liner notes with original christmas stories, STICKERS!, and in the lyric booklet there are guitar tabs so you can play along to every song! pretty neat stuff. there is one kind of creepy poster of sufjan and a woman and a young boy, not sure if they're part of his actual family but... whatever. all in all this package is worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of those great cds that improves with repetition. Some really haunting and beautiful tunes along with funny-not-novelty songs. Just funny in that they capture what it feels like to come home for Christmas holiday during college or from when you were a kid in the suburbs. Joyful and sweet and cool all at once.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago