by Kim Ruehl
It's very nearly Thanksgiving, which means it might be a smidge early to talk about Christmas music, but this new album from Elizabeth Mitchell isn't teeming with your typical "Jingle Bells" repetition. It's a wonderful collection of holiday music performed with Mitchell's signature sparseness. Acoustic instruments, hand claps, and a community of skilled singers is always at the ready. In this case, that means Natalie Merchant, Aoife O’Donovan, Joan Osborne, Mike Merenda, Ruthy Ungar, Dan Zanes, Happy Traum, Peggy Seeger, and more.
Mitchell, who has always been a skillful interpreter of songs for the whole family, draws from the motherlode here - tunes plucked from Ruth Crawford Seeger's 1953 book, American Folk Songs for Christmas. The result is The Sounding Joy, and we've teamed up with the fine folks at Smithsonian Folkways to bring you this First Spin to help ease you into the holiday mood.
Forget everything you think you know about what Christmas carols sound like, and press play. Enjoy, and let us know what you think in the comments.