- Audio CD (19 Nov. 2007)
- Number of Discs: 5
- Format: Box set
- Label: Rough Trade Records
- ASIN: B000K9L3IO
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,899 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
And so to the music - each CD features a range of traditional Christmas tunes, some more familiar than others, interspersed with Sufjan's quirky compositions. The usual collaborators and friends are found here. Matt Morgan (the guy providing the excellent duet on Illinois's Decatur) features prominently on Disk 1, and later come Vito Aiuto, Shara Worden, Denison Witmer et al. Highlights and lowpoints may well depend on the listener's own associations with these well-known songs, although some of these interpretations are a delight. The track that seems to epitomise this whole project is The Friendly Beasts - which is both rustic and sophisticated at the same time, and may bring a tear to your eye when Shara Worden sings her wispy lines.
Disk 5 (Peace) recorded in July 2006 stands apart because (unlike the others) it was recorded with this release in mind. Thus, it is more polished and much like a typical Sufjan CD, if there can be such a thing. Sister Winter is a top drawer Sufjan song, its portentous opening chords blossoming into something beautiful. Star of Wonder is a miniature symphony.Read more ›
Being an avid fan of Sufjan Stevens (and I ♥ Christmas music), I couldn't ask for a more appropriate Christmas present off the back of buying `The Avalanche' for my birthday in July, and I have to refrain myself from foaming at the mouth from the amount of BREATHTAKING new material he manages to keep producing in such a short space of time (NB. these EP's are the result of mini recordings over various winter breaks in between his main records). Despite having heard the whole box set already from a sincerely generous stream on the website of Sufjan's label Asthmatic Kitty, one must surely look forward to the "suf-goodies" included in the box set: an essay by Rick Moody, a music video and a comic book by Tom Eaton, extensive liner notes and short stories by Sufjan Stevens, a "Christmas Songbook with lyric sheets and chord charts," stickers, and last but not least, the "Official Original Christmas Family Portrait of Santa Sufjan painted by Jacques Bredy!" It's going to be a good Christmas.
Onto the music, and as noted, the 5 EP's are made up of a mix of covers and original compositions. They show the progression of the Sufjan 'sound', and the technical/production quality of the songs (particularly in the last two EP's) delineate how he has become one of the great modern songwriters of our generation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite simply the best Christmas CD ever made. Stunningly re-worked old carols & hymns, alongside some newly-penned classics of the future. Read morePublished 22 months ago by StephenC
Excellent value. Boxed set, so it's easy for guys to wrap!! Includes song/chord book n sticker set. Makes a quirky Xmas gift. I've been giving them away since it first came out. Read morePublished on 21 Aug. 2014 by David H Robertson
These are lovely NOT- Kitch Christmas songs which will not embarass you even in the most cynical of company; but rather uplift and entertain.Published on 12 Feb. 2013 by someone
A nice antidote to the usual trash released for Christmas by popular recording artists. Good, original reworkings of traditional Christmas songs. Read morePublished on 2 Jan. 2013 by H. Hagan
The Cd arrived when they said it would. Like new, like it said. So, i am very satisfied with the servicePublished on 10 Dec. 2012 by Manel
This is a lovely album. Some of it will make you smile and some of it will break your heart. You should buy itPublished on 6 Dec. 2012 by RogerBT
Folk music isn't usually my thing - I went on a recommendation for this album. I like most of it, but the odd one is a bit TOO folky. Read morePublished on 22 Nov. 2012 by AndreaG
Great stuff indeed. Fast delivery. Good great and good and good again. Bla bla bla bla bla... Did I say fast deli very ... Very fast indeedPublished on 19 Oct. 2011 by ttt