Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas

  
Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Album: Songs for Christmas
Year: 2006
Length: 122 minutes, 50 seconds
Genre: Christmas/Indie Folk
Why I picked it up: Vaguely aware of the artist, heard his music during a BlogTV show, had to buy it
Favourite tracks: Sister Winter,  Star of Wonder
Random lyric:Only to bring you peace/Only at Christmas time/Only the King of Kings/Only what once was mine
Purchase: Amazon | iTunes | Check your local music store!

I purchased this album (just an iTunes download, mind you, so I'm focusing strictly on the music here) a few weeks ago - it's the first Christmas album I've bought myself! I've never really had the desire to buy Christmas music, what I have with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and my parent's CDs has always been pretty satisfying and most Christmas music is blah blah blah and been done to death. That's definitely not the case with this album. 


At 42 tracks, you might think this album gets repetitive. Indeed, there are three renditions of O Come, O Come Emmanuel and two of Low How a Rose E'er Blooming but each is done in a different style (one of my favourite songs is the first version of O Come...) and they're spaced out so I hardly even notice that I'm technically listening to the same song more than once. It was hard for me to pick favourite songs, I just picked the first two that came to mind. When I'm listening to the album, I always think 'Oh, I reallly like this song!' and then a few songs later 'No, this is the best!'. There aren't any songs that I specifically disliked. I'm sure there are a few that aren't that memorable, especially considering the album is 42 tracks long. There's a good balance between traditional and original songs. The original songs are reasonably creative and they aren't all about happy warm-fuzzy Christmas feelings (That Was the Worst Christmas Ever! and Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? are examples of what I'm talking about).

Trans-Siberian Orchestra represents a certain aspect of Christmas. This album represents another, completely different aspect but both are aspects I wholeheartedly appreciate. The TSO aspect would have to be the magic and the power and the mystery behind Christmas. That feeling you get when the clock strikes midnight and snow is falling on Christmas Eve. That sense that Christmas represents something so much bigger. Songs for Christmas represents the smaller things, the simple things that make Christmas so enjoyable. The sound of the album makes me feel like curling up on the couch with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. It's very homey, peaceful, down to earth. I'm not sure if I'm describing this right...but oh well, that's pretty much how I feel about the whole thing =)

I don't really have anything to say about the technical goodness of the music. I like the raw sound. I like the arrangements. Nothing too fancy. Just right. Music to enjoy, not to read into. It gets me just into the right mood for a warm Christmas.

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