Sufjan Stevens had a busy year: there was the “All Delighted People” EP, “The Age of Adz” full-length release, and now this, a Christmas EP.
While it was the singer-songwriter’s tradition before to make EPs of Christmas music for family and friends every year– five of which were ultimately boxed up for the aptly named “Songs for Christmas” set in 2006 — this new one, for 2010, is a little different. The Brooklynite-by-way-of-Michigan musician is joined by neighbors and friends Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National, plus Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire.
Stevens and Parry helped out on The National’s latest, pretty great “High Violet,” so it was a holiday reunion of sorts. They tackle Christmas classics like “Silent Night” and “Auld Lang Syne,” and throw some instrumentals on there, like “Go Nightly Cries.” The set, which is making the rotation untitled, is eight tracks long, including some originals.
According to Dessner the Aaron, “Silent Night” at least was recorded a “few years ago.”
“Richie happened to be in town [in Brooklyn] and he happened to have his big, beautiful, upright bass and we recorded ‘Silent Night’… and it kind of made us all love this song again,” he said on BBC 6, as he and Bryce “DJed” for a night on BBC 6 Mix.
After it was released, “Songs for Christmas” has been one of the few sets of holiday music that I’ve been able to keep on rotation for multiple listens, beyond just the general Vince Guaraldis and The Carpenterses. I find some of that boxed set’s “silly” songs — like “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever” and “Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” — totally unbearable, but nothing that the “Delete from Library” command can’t fix. But dude kills it on classic carols like “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” hymns like “Come Thou Fount” and Christmas songs like “I Saw Three Ships.”
However, with this little collaboration, there’s not a skippable track on/in it, even “Auld Lang Syne” in all its out-of-key, singing saw goofy glory. Despite Stevens recent spate (I mean three tracks) of 10+ minute tracks, he does have the gift of brevity.
As previously reported, Parry and Aaron Dessner will be working more with each other soon — if not currently — on the Little Scream debut.
Listen below. How do you like it?
Update: Tracks removed, head for the hills of YouTube.