Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Rare Holiday Recording from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings -- "The Sounding Joy" on CD (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

Elizabeth Mitchell and Friends present an exploration of Christmas and winter solstice songs from the American folk tradition on this rare holiday recording from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

"GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell releases The Sounding Joy, an exploration of Christmas and solstice songs from the American folk tradition.  Drawn almost exclusively from the often overlooked but deeply influential songbook of revered composer and anthologist Ruth Crawford Seeger, these songs evoke an era before mass media and the commercialization of Christmas, when sacred song, dance, contemplation, and gathering were prized above all else during the holiday season. Mitchell’s fifth album for Smithsonian 

Folkways, The Sounding Joy features husband Daniel Littleton, daughter Storey, and special guests Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Aoife O’Donovan, Gail Ann Dorsey, Larry Campbell, Dan Zanes, and John Sebastian, among many other family, friends, and neighbors. This gorgeously reverent 24-song collection attempts to save these traditional American holiday songs from an “unmarked grave,” as Merchant puts it in her essay included in the liner notes. The Sounding Joy is truly for listeners of all ages and is Smithsonian Folkways’ first holiday album in more than a decade." 
For more information about this and other award-winning family music recordings, visit Smithsonian Folkways online.


My Thoughts:

You would have that Christmas fell in November, as stores were already putting up holiday displays and even playing Christmas music, before Halloween.  Is it just me, or are the holidays feeling rushed as each year passes by.  But, I guess I can't complain as Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year.  Not because of the gifts, but because I love the holiday music, lights and opportunity to spend time with family and friends I haven't seen in a while. And, now when family comes for Thanksgiving this year, I will have a new holiday CD I will play while we trim the tree after dinner.

In the past, I would play songs like "I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and other fast temp, up-beat songs.  But, after listening to "The Sounding Joy" by Elizabeth Mitchell and Friends, I can't help but wish that my neighborhood was the kind that would get together and go caroling, or enjoy each other company as we get into the holiday spirit sharing stories and singing classic Christmas songs.

As I listened to this CD, which released back on October 15th, I couldn't help but reminisce about my childhood and how my mom would take us to the Christmas Eve midnight mass, where we would not only hear the holiday sermon, but also sing Christmas songs.  I used to love hearing everyone join in together in singing the different songs, and how, even if we weren't singers, our voices would melt together to form a beautiful choir of voices that made you feel the spirit of the season in the church.   

With 24 tracks to this holiday CD, you are bound to find songs to not only sing along to, but ones that will remind you about the true meaning of Christmas.  My personal favorites included "Joy to the World," "Shine Like a Star in the Morning," "The First Noel" and my all-time favorite Christmas song "Silent Night." 

My husband is not big on holiday music, because to him they commercialize the holiday too much and with the 24/7 song playing on the radio, he is all Christmas'ed out by early November.  So, I was surprised to see him sit in the room and listen to the CD in its entirety.  I had to get up to change Bella's diaper, and paused the CD.  He asked if I was coming back, as he liked what he was listening to.  He especially loved when Elizabeth Mitchell was joined by others to sing, including her husband and daughter.  This is one holiday CD my husband will not mind me playing on repeat in the house or in the car.  And, come Thanksgiving night, I can't wait to share all the beautiful holiday songs with my family, and hear what they think about this unique blend of voices, in the one-of-a-kind holiday album, sure to become a staple in many family's "must listen to" holiday music CD collections. :-)

---BUY NOW---

The Sounding Joy, is available for purchase for only $14.98 on CD, or digital download for $9.99.  It comes with a 32-page booklet that includes descriptions of each song and information about the performers who join Elizabeth Mitchell on this album.  Click here to order now --

Download a Free Song: 

Please enjoy a free download of the cumulative song, "Children, Go Where I Send Thee."

---Holiday Concert in New York City...Get Your Tickets Now---

Elizabeth Mitchell, her family band, and a host of musical guests will perform a holiday-time concert  on Special Guests include Natalie Merchant. Tickets are available now. Details are at the Symphony Space Just Kidding website. Saturday, December 14th at Symphony Space.

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.


  1. I love this type of music during the Holidays and would love to hear this one I bet its beautiful thanks for sharing this one.
    heather [email protected]

  2. My husband has a rule: No Christmas music until December. :) I adore it though and am guilty of singing it occasionally throughout the year. I can't help my love fro Christmas, I got it from my mother. It is such a wonderful time of year. The lights, the baking, the activities with friends and family, and of course the Christmas music.