I'm a sucker for Christmas music. I marvel every year on how holiday album sales go, which songs get a redux from popular artists, how new originals reflect the immediacy of our times. Christmas carols, hymns and songs are not only written with a sense or urgency -- due to the season and any religious connote -- but are frequently performed and delivered with an affecting earnestness, that even the sarcastic odes or parodies are dropped with a sense of projected purpose. Christmas music has weight, and its performers are allowed to indulge.
Sufjan Stevens' first boxed set of Christmas music was five discs long, and was a collection of EPs and long-players intended for dispersal to family and friends from 2001 to 2006. And it sounded that way. Stevens already has this bright-eyed, left-of-center innocence to his voice, and classic anthems on acoustic and banjo is already so divine. His Christian roots also plays into the authentic selection, when he recorded non-Christmas hymns like "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Come Thou Fount" to include instead of non-religious regulars like "Jingle Bell Rock" or its ilk. He, of course, included some obnoxious and cheeky originals like "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!" and "Did I Make You Cry on Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!)." (You can tell those, by the excess exclamation points.)
The singer-songwriter will be releasing another new set of Christmas albums, a collection of those from 2007-2012, under the boxed name "Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Volumes 6-10." These, too, were originally released to family and friends. Some of the individual titles (and their respective covers) have dipped into the "silly" costume box, including "Christmas Infinity Voyage," "I Am Santa's Helper" and "Christmas Unicorn."