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Songs for Christmas Box set

104 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, November 21, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In December 2001, Sufjan set out to create a Christmas gift for his friends and family. The result was a seven-song recording that he called "Noel Vol. 1". Over the next several years, he created new EPs to add to the collection. This 5-CD box set includes all five volumes, plus a 42-page booklet with an original Christmas essay by acclaimed American novelist Ricky Moody, two essays, a short story by Stevens, a holiday sticker, chord charts, lyrics, comic strip, family portrait poster, photos, and an animated video.

Every year it's an issue: how does one stomach the onset of holiday music? With an endless stream of overplayed pop stars stirring what Sufjan Stevens calls "That Creepy Christmas Feeling," how does one navigate the sound of the season? Back in 2001, Stevens began making annual EPs of traditional carols and songs mixed with his own holiday-themed tunes. With 2006 and Volume 5, he's compiled a perfect gift for the Christmas-inclined indie rockster: all five EPs in one box, separately slipcased, plus a booklet filled with lyric sheets, chord charts, a Rick Moody essay, and more. Yes, Stevens knows that "Jingle Bells" features him playing (as he notes) "insipid piano," but he also writes gorgeous arrangements. Check out the three versions of "O Come O Come Emmanuel"; each aches. And "O Holy Night" from Volume 3 is lo-fi genius, never mind anyone's resistance to theology; it's a time-stopper. Stevens's own tunes are unmistakably his, hushed vocals highlighting a unique mix of whimsy and yearning--much like the justly-lauded Illinois and Michigan. In the end of the liner essay, Stevens writes that the Christmas story is about love, and on that note, he proclaims that these songs and the "Creepy Christmas Feeling" prompt "a transformation of the heart" for him and bring out affection and reflection. Isn't that a great holiday vibe? --Andrew Bartlett

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
See all 7 tracks on this disc
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
See all 9 tracks on this disc
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
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. The Little Drummer Boy
2. Away In A Manger
3. Hey Guys! It's Christmas Time!
4. The First Noel
See all 7 tracks on this disc
Disc: 5
1. Once in Royal David's City
2. Get Behind Me, Santa!
3. Jingle Bells
4. Christmas in July
See all 11 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 21, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: 2006
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Asthmatic Kitty
  • ASIN: B000HLDF0O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,969 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 69 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD
For some years now, Sufjan Stevens has been recording little EPs of Christmas songs for people he knew, to "make himself appreciate Christmas more."

Now thankfully he's sharing these songs with his eager listeners, in a five-disc collection that includes his folky reinterpretations of classic carols -- and then the festive ones he made himself. This is not the treacly garbage they put on the radio or in malls -- this is enchanting, festive, fresh music for the holidays.

The first EP -- recorded in 2001 -- is very much old-school Sufjan. Much folkier and banjoey, especially in the lo-fi "O Come O Come Emmanuel," folksy little songs about going to the country, and "Amazing Grace." But there are exceptions -- a shimmering reinterpration of an old hymn, and some bouncy sleigh bell pop.

But the collection blossoms with the sparkling "Angels We Have Heard on High," which is the lead-in to his more polished style. In the four EPs that follow, Sufjan flourishes out into synthy pop, xylophone tunes, dancey holiday music, mellow folk, and exquisite piano balladry. There's the occasional banjo tune, but they grow rarer as time goes on.

And as the collection moves forward, Stevens' music becomes more accomplished with each passing year. His music becomes more complex and more enchanting, right up to the rather pensive and downbeat fifth disc -- which is album-length -- with the shimmering piano of "Winter Solstice" and the offbeat synthpop of "Jupiter Winter."

Sufjan does repeat himself occasionally -- there are multiple versions of "O Come O Come Emmanual," "Lo! A Rose E'er Blooming," and "Once in Royal David's City." Fortunately each time he records the same song, it's radically reimagined.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Cale E. Reneau on November 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The lofty dreams of Sufjan Stevens have always been one of his most admirable features. Whether it's a double album based on the state of Illinois, or better yet, an entire project based on the 50 states of the United States, Stevens has always captivated his audiences with some of the grandest music today! Like his most recent projects, his latest box-set, titled "Songs for Christmas," is a collection of 5 short Christmas albums that were recorded by Sufjan every year since 2001. Any die hard fan of the artist should have heard most of these songs before (they have been available on the Internet for some time now), but a low-price tag, attractive packaging and additional fold-outs, stickers and a songbook make this package a must-have for any Sufjan fan!

There are far too many songs on this collection to critique individually (42 in all), so I will simply point out that "Songs for Christmas" is one of the best Christmas albums that I've yet to hear in my life. There are traditional Christmas songs on here (both Christian and secular), Christian hymns, and even original songs by Mr. Stevens, himself. Each song is treated with the utmost care and respected for its worth and history, yet they manage to sound distinctly like Sufjan Stevens. With the exception of Volume 5 of the collection, "Peace," you won't find any of the symphonic embellishments that you've come to expect with albums like "Illinois" and "The Avalanche." Instead, what you'll find is a very toned-down Sufjan Stevens, reminiscent of "Seven Swans" or the lighter moments on "Michigan." More often than not, these songs will only feature Sufjan on guitar, banjo, or piano as he humbly sings the songs we've loved since our childhood.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Circus McGee on November 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Sufjan has exceeded my expectations with every album he releases, and this is no exception. For any fans of Sufjan; this is a must have. For any fans of Christmas Music; this is a must have.

All of your favorite Christmas songs are here, wonderfully redone with an unmistakably Sufjan sound. This album covers the entire spectrum of Sufjan's sound. There are quiet, folky, banjo pieces reminiscent of "Seven Swans", or parts of "M!ch!gan!", but he also inclusdes some of the large, complicated, orchestral compositions prominent on "Illinois"

Sufjan has many people help out on this album, including; "a college friend, a Presbyterian pastor and his wife, a string quartet, my little brother, to name a few." I was pleasenty surprised to find that Denison Witmer contibutes to a few songs on "Ding! Dong!" (vol. 3).

The best parts of this album, in my opinion, are the original songs that Sufjan has written. "It's Christmas!, Lets be glad!", "Come on, Lets Boogey to the Elf Dance!", "Hey Guys, It's Christmas Time!", and many of the others are now my new favorite Christmas Songs. Sufjan even includes lyric sheets and chord charts so that you can sing and play along!

Also, The packaging of this album is the best that I have ever seen. Stickers, a comic, a poster, 5CDs and a booklet with short stories by "Santa Sufjan" and many other things. If you are going to buy this album, buy the actual album, don't download it. And read through the entire booklet, Sufjan puts a bunch of very funny little comments all through it.

This album makes me glad that I have a 5CD changer in my CD player. I doubt I will listen to much else this holiday season.
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