Artist: Sufjan Stevens

Album: Silver and Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10

Grade: B+

With the release of his five disc, 58 track collection, Silver and Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10¸ Sufjan Stevens firmly asserts his status as one of the most brilliant and bizarre musicians working today. A follow up to his 2006 album Songs for Christmas, this most recent release is comprised of Christmas songs, both classic and original, recorded by Stevens from 2006 to 2010.

Gloria, the first of the collection’s five discs, was recorded in 2006, and is reminiscent of the impossibly sweet sounds of Stevens’ 2005 indie-folk masterpiece Illinois. It transforms from delicately acoustic to powerfully orchestral within seconds, deftly transitioning from the choral harmonies of ‘Silent Night’, to the honky-tonky Americana strings of ‘Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You From Christmases Past’ without a hint of jarring audio.

The sounds become more and more synthetic, while the lyrics become more and more bizarre, as the album progresses. With the electronic beats and robotic vocals of ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ becoming surprisingly hypnotic. The album’s final track ‘Christmas Unicorn’ is perhaps the most bizarre Christmas song ever recorded. Beginning as a satirical ballad, journeying for 12 minutes into a sweet pop song and then onto a pastiche of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.

Combining the most touching and spiritual elements of Stevens’ work with the most unusual and unexpected; this collection succeeds not only as a delightfully original Christmas album, but also as a trip through Stevens’ musical development. Through five discs he showcases the originality and ingenuity of his work whilst getting the listener into a rather alternative Christmas spirit.

In a Nutshell: An imaginative and entertaining collection of Christmas songs.