Asthmatic Kitty; November 2006
Punctuality be damned; since the quiet release of Sufjan Stevens’s limited-edition, 40-song ode to Christmas last year, I have been waiting with unbridled anticipation for an excuse to bust the collection out again. Filled to the brim with hymns, classic yuletide tunes, and original compositions that are pure, theatrical-meets-folksy Stevens (namely, the poppy, bell-and-whistle heavy “Put the Lights on the Tree”), the albums embody everything good about holiday records. Continuously recognized for his epic use of spiritual imagery, Stevens succeeds here in paying homage to the true meaning of the holiday without losing himself in the process. And while the simplistic piano pounding snippet of “Jingle Bells” will get most in the spirit, it’s somber, building songs like “Sister Winter” that make Stevens’s effort so startlingly touching.