Review: Mixed feelings about ‘Silver and Gold’
Christmas is right around the corner, and with winter upon us one can feel overwhelmed by the vast selection of holiday tunes playing on the radio and in the mall; it’s nearly inescapable. A Christmas album is something a lot of artists strive to put out, but the tired covers that bring nothing new to the table will never replace the beloved Nat King Cole renditions that are played ad nauseam.
Sufjan Stevens attempts to tackle the Christmas album with “Silver and Gold,” a collection of 58 songs that consists of both traditional and untraditional takes on old classics and original Christmas songs. It is certainly quite the hodgepodge of music and ranges from quiet acoustic renditions to heavily produced electronic beats to rock and roll tracks.
Some of the covers, however, are nice and subtle. The choral arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne” is very low key and pleasant to listen to. The addition of guitars on “Silent Night” is a nice take on a Christmas classic. But, some songs are also unrecognizable; one has to wonder why Stevens even bothered to cover them in the first place. The composition of “Jingle Bells” has been changed so much that the only thing it has in common with previous renditions of the song is the lyrics. Refreshingly, though, it is the only rendition of the song I can recall that doesn’t feature actual bells in the background.
The original songs are neither good nor bad, but simply forgettable. “Mr. Frosty Man” is a light and silly rock song that is nothing substantial but gets the job done. On the other hand, “Barcarola (You Must Be A Christmas Tree)” is a seven-minute ballad whose length cannot be justified.
It’s hard to say anything definitive about this album because it is all over the place. The Christmas song covers that are less bombastic tend to be the most enjoyable but not all of the original songs work. Stevens, however, should be commended for creating a Christmas album that is different than usual.
The Setonian gives this album 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Gerald Prohigh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.