35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
A solid Christmas album from Mr. Stevens!,
This review is from: Songs for Christmas (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.
The original songs on this collection are all surprisingly top-notch, though I doubt many of them will translate into pop culture quite as seamlessly as the other songs have. After all, a song titled "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)" probably won't appeal to everyone. Regardless, these songs feature the charming nature that fans have come to expect from Sufjan over the years. They are not genius, by any means, but they are good and they definitely serve their purpose by putting you in the holiday spirit.
"Songs for Christmas" is not Sufjan's greatest album, nor is it meant to be. What it is is a charming collection of old classics and new songs from one of America's most talented musicians. Obviously, this album is not going to be for everyone. Those who don't identify with Christianity or celebrate Christmas probably won't find as much to enjoy here as they would on other Sufjan albums, but those who can identify with the subject matter will absolutely love it! For the price, there's no better Christmas album that you could possibly buy. So stick with "Songs for Christmas." You'll be thankful you did.
Recommended for fans of Sufjan Stevens, and anyone looking to get into the Christmas spirit without spending ludicrous amounts of money!
1. "I Saw Three Ships"
2. "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
3. "That was the Worst Christmas Ever"
4. "The Incarnation"
5. "Get Behind Me Santa"
6 out of 10 Stars