The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook

The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook

by Elizabeth MitchellElizabeth Mitchell


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With a crystal-clear voice and an encyclopedic knowledge of music history, Elizabeth Mitchell is a somewhat unlikely but completely essential children's music performer. Instead of offering cloying, repetitive nursery rhymes, Mitchell makes records with all the craft, awe, and nuance of the classic artists who inspired her from her early indie days on down the path that led her to her tenure with the Smithsonian Folkways label and collaborations with folk stalwarts like Dan Zanes. Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs in and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook is more evidence of Mitchell's unique and meticulous talents, collecting her inventive arrangements of 24 holiday tunes, Christmas carols, and children's songs from Seeger's 1953 songbook American Folk Songs for Christmas. Rather than the typical sleepy or overly serious renditions of well-known Christmas songs, Mitchell's readings come through with bright curiosity, adventurous instrumentation, and the understated sense of playful humor that flows through her whole catalog. Soulful, gospel-tinged tunes like "Baby Born Today" and the raving "January, February (Last Month of the Year)" are paired with somber, snowy string arrangements on "Ain't That A-Rockin' All Night" and the glisteningly eerie harp of "Sing Hallelu." Though over an hour of material, the lengthy running time never drags, but flows through various modes of sound, from icy, Björk-like minimal arrangements to full-on barn rock takes on Christmas tunes à la the Band. Mitchell is joined by her husband and longtime creative partner, Daniel Littleton, on most songs, as well as their daughter Storey, not to mention a host of folk luminaries such as John Sebastian, Amy Helm, Dan Zanes, Natalie Merchant, and even Peggy Seeger. The thoughtful arrangements, production, and choice of material results in a one-of-a-kind Christmas album, its warm and timeless air so strong and carefully assembled that it's easy to forget it's a holiday-themed album at all.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/15/2013
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
UPC: 0093074507421
catalogNumber: 745074
Rank: 68649

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Elizabeth Mitchell   Primary Artist,Harmonium,Vocals
Peggy Seeger   Guitar,Vocals
Happy Traum   Guitar,Vocals
John Sebastian   Harmonica,Vocals
Gail Ann Dorsey   Vocals
Larry Campbell   Banjo,Mandolin
Warren Defever   Bass,Guitar
Lyn Hardy   Vocals
Molly Mason   Dulcimer,Bass
Natalie Merchant   Vocals
Abby Newton   Cello
Jay Ungar   Banjo,Fiddle,Violin,Viola
Chris Wood   Bass,Vocals
Joan Osborne   Vocals
Dan Zanes   Harmonica,Vocals
Teresa Williams   Vocals
Clem Waldmann   Percussion,Drums
Michael Littleton   Vocals
Amy Helm   Vocals
Byron Isaacs   Guitar,Upright Bass
Anna Padgett   Vocals
Marco Benevento   Piano
Aoife O'Donovan   Vocals
Michael Merenda   Banjo,Vocals
Jean Cook   Violin
Kirsten Jacobson   Flute,Piano
Daniel Littleton   Guitar,Harmonica,Percussion,Piano,Harmonium,Vocals,Xylophone,Kalimba,Bells
Suzan-Lori Parks   Harmonica,Vocals,Washboard
Storey Littleton   Vocals,Hand Clapping
Nancy Chusid   Bass Recorder
Penny Littleton   Vocals
Simi Stone   Vocals
Sophia Reynolds   Vocals
Ken Ejinkonye   Vocals,Hand Clapping
Emily Schaad   Viola
Elizabeth Jerez-Clarke   Harp
Ruth Ungar   Fiddle,Vocals

Technical Credits

Peggy Seeger   Adaptation
Warren Defever   Producer,Engineer
Justin Guip   Engineer
Natalie Merchant   Liner Notes,Annotation
Scott Petito   Engineer
Elijah Walker   Engineer
Elizabeth Mitchell   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes,Annotation
Paul Antonell   Engineer
D.A. Sonneborn   Executive Producer
Chris Edwards   Engineer
Michael Littleton   Arranger
Sonya Cohen Cramer   Art Direction,Layout
Kirsten Jacobson   Arranger
Daniel Littleton   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes,Annotation
Daniel Goodwin   Engineer
Brian Selznick   Cover Art
Daniel E. Sheehy   Executive Producer
Adam Armstrong   Engineer
Guthrie Lord   Engineer
Bella Blasco   Engineer

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