Someone asked me why I hadn’t blogged yet about the new Sufjan Stevens release, and my answer is, um, well, I’ve been too busy listening to it.

In fact, Sufjan doesn’t just have one new volume of material… no, he has FIVE new volumes of material. And they’re all Christmas albums.

They’re new, that is, to those who haven’t been tuning in through his fan club over the last few years. I’ve been listening to the first three volumes for a while now. But at last, they’re packaged up with some new recordings, and they’re a delightful holiday collection.

Having said that, do not expect these to sound like the carefully polished, visionary work that made Illinois the favorite album of many critics in 2005. It’s actually quite a casual performance of holiday standards and a few quirky originals. There are a few tracks that make me stop what I’m doing to bask in the light of reverent worship, but most of the time this sounds like musicians from a church youth group getting together to play through their favorites.

So, as I said, it’s a delightful collection, one that you’ll enjoy pulling out during the holiday season and playing in the background during family gatherings. But don’t expect it to blow you away like a proper Stevens’ release. It’s just not that kind of performance. It is exactly what the cover claims… a singalong.

Here’s the track listing:

Noel: Songs for Christmas, Vol. I (recorded December 2001)
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

Hark!: Songs for Christmas, Vol. II (recorded December 2002)
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

Ding! Dong!: Songs for Christmas, Vol. III (recorded December 2003)
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

Joy: Songs for Christmas, Vol. IV (recorded December 2005)
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

Peace: Songs for Christmas, Vol. V (recorded June 2006)
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 *

* denotes original songs by Sufjan Stevens © 2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

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