the_sounding_joy_300Invite the calm and handmade in with Elizabeth Mitchell’s Christmas album

For our friends out there that celebrate Christmas, you know there is music for all moods vying for your attention. While I love the variety, I think if I hear “Santa Baby” one more time I might just lose it. There is a place for the plastic and bright in small measure, but I find that I need more reflective music to really enhance my days. To the rescue comes the new album by Elizabeth Mitchell and Friends—”The Sounding Joy, Christmas Songs in and out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook.”

The album is a collection of folk carols from Ruth Crawford Seeger’s 1953 songbook “American Folk Songs for Christmas” —American folk songs she helped save from extinction while working for the WPA Federal Music Program. The intro to the collection is written by Natalie Merchant, and is a wonderful read in and of itself. A first for us, here is a link to the liner notes—treat yourself today to a wonderful historical traipse with Merchant—you will be inspired before you even hear the first tune. Seeger’s songbook is a record of songs by “simple people, of farm hands, shop clerks, and country preachers” and recorded in such a pared down way that if you close your eyes, you feel like your house has been turned into a Christmas house party with all of your best uncles, aunties and cousins playing just for you.

The entire album is a gem, but stand outs for me are songs that remind us of the humanity of Mary and the baby Jesus, include the haunting and simple “Mother’s Child” featuring Peggy Seeger, the bluegrass-tinged shout style (back and forth between leader and group) of “Baby Born Today” and the gorgeous and spare “Ain’t That a-Rockin’ All Night.” Nothing can describe the richness of this album better than hearing it for yourself—here’s the video for “Baby Born Today”

My favorite quote by Merchant about this album is “The Sounding Joy is a homecoming, a community gathering on common ground where everyone is welcome. That’s the spirit in which it was conceived and recorded.” Treat yourself this holiday season, make that cup of tea, let this music fill your house, and be amazed at the ability of human beings throughout the ages to touch our souls with song. Enjoy! Jenna

For more information about Elizabeth Mitchell and “The Sounding Joy” visit her website
They are also offering a FREE download of “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” on the Smithsonian Folkways website! 

Our tiny disclaimer: Mommy on a Shoestring occasionally receives new family music to review—we are never paid for our time, and all opinions are ours alone. We just love great music and hope to pass along those artists that light up our lives!