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Sufjan Stevens

As of press time, Sufjan Stevens has yet to begin his holiday tour, which might be called “The Sirfjam Stephanopolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Disaster,” or maybe “Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice.” (The Internet is unable to come to consensus.)

That unverified tidbit is among the only known details of the tour so far, yet Stevens’ Nov. 26 Georgia Theatre show sold out in “two shakes of a reindeer’s tail,†according to a venue representative, who answered all questions with similarly holiday-themed ambiguities.

Stevens released his second Christmas music box set, Silver & Gold, on Nov. 13 (the first was 2006’s Songs for Christmas: Vol 1–5). About a month prior, the enigmatic songwriter started a Christmas-themed blog, where he posted music videos and song previews. The blog is both a serious and strange study of Christmas and all its accompanying religion, hysterical joy, pervasiveness and disappointment. Despite the potential tour titles and strange, dreamy videos, Stevens’ version of the holiday is much more intimate than most Christmas music.

“If Christmas is the holiday of ‘worst case scenarios,’ then its carol has become its most corrupted currency, intoning rhapsody and romance with mistletoe and Marshmallow Fluff, placating the public with indelible melodies propagating a message of peace, love, and venture capitalism,” reads Stevens’ website. “This is the true horror-show catharsis of Christmas: the existential emptiness that perseveres in the heart of modern man as he recklessly pursues his search for happiness and comes up empty handed.”

The 58 tracks on Silver & Gold are more varied than those on Songs for Christmas; six years and a smidge more cynicism have inspired electronic and lo-fi additions to Stevens’ signature folksy choruses. Yet Silver & Gold possesses the same surprising beauty that deems him so fit to take on this cultural mammoth.