Kate reviews “Silver and Gold: Songs for Christmas Volumes 6-10” by Sufjan Stevens

Music Critic

Swimming against the current of typical Christmas music, Sufjan Stevens, the indie king of quirk, has created his second compilation, titled “Silver and Gold (Volume 6-10)”.


Chock-full of unique covers of holiday songs, as well as some original compositions, listeners not familiar with Stevens’ work would probably be confused by his approach. However, for those who enjoy a twist on tradition, this album is an excellent way to mix up the holidays.

Possibly the only constant variable in Stevens’ music is his soft singer-songwriter voice; he bounces between genres like folk, rock, and electronica, often influenced by banjo, acoustic guitar, and horn sections. But his jack of trade would be his eccentricity with his music. His proposed plan to make an album for all fifty states was off to a great start with the albums “Illinoise” and “Michigan”, but flopped after, and his lyrics on his spiritual journey and famous events and people are profoundly versed.  


His shows are accentuated with flashy costumes and wacky light shows that almost seem too gaudy for his music style.

And now with “Silver and Gold” he puts his trademark eccentric spin on Christmas music. Traditional tunes like “Ave Maria”, “Silent Night”, and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” are sung in the typical carol style, but are given an instrumental twist, particularly through the use of banjo and synthesizer.

In volume eight, Stevens takes a turn in composition and goes electronica.  These songs are injected with Stevens’ newer synth and auto-tune-driven sounds, possibly the opposite of what would be expected out of Christmas. “Do You Hear What I Hear” is an electronic cover that I can only describe as a slow-motion laser fight between robots.

Other tracks like “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and “Let it Snow” have a haunting feel through whispering vocals and low-key instrumentals.

The closing track, “Christmas Unicorn” is a highlight. Because of the lyrics, this original song would be impossible to take seriously if not for Steven’s perfection at composition. The build of the song is a gorgeous audio journey to a peak of drums, bells, synthesizer, and harmonies, and that makes it a track that speaks for the whole compilation’s oddity and beauty.

Silver and Gold (volumes 6-10) gives a dreamy, trippy, and often humorous take on holiday music that shows off smartly strange musicianship. At first listen, it almost feels wrong for the songs to be so different, but the silliness and intrigue that the compilation offers is of enduring quality that only Sufjan Stevens could perfect.