Sufjan Stevens mixes autobiography, religious fantasy, and regional history to create folk songs of grand proportions. A preoccupation with epic concepts has motivated two state records (Michigan & Illinois) and an electronic album for the animals of the Chinese zodiac (Enjoy Your Rabbit).
If his new album Carrie and Lowell is about anything it's about the work of thinking through song, the planting of various philosophies in an aural playground where all is not joyous but there is no absence of joy since the spirit is lifted up by creation, and the telling of stories that lead to other thoughts, the artist's spirit sitting in silence and his voice and his playing.
"On 'Carrie and Lowell,' the title song, Sufjan Stevens sings: 'Under the pear tree/Shadows and lights conspiring.' This is not just a beautiful, mysterious image, but a riddle one feels one wants to solve. What do the shadows and lights conspire to do? Whom do they effect? The poet, of course, since it's the poet's eye that connects us to the story he means to tell in this lyric, and the next and the next, all adding up to: My vision is my consciousness and from that reflection rises like sound and silence, or intimacy.
"In "Carrie and Lowell," Sufjan Stevens is a child again or, more specifically, the child character in the family of man drama that often but not always centers on the story of love given, or love forsaken, but isn't that the same thing to the poet? That the love Stevens sings about having left or given or been born to-thank you, Carrie-is a perceptible wound not only on the singer's throat, but his sleeve: He wears love's incomprehensibility, and the deep incomprehensibility of being a son, like a backing vocal on 'Carrie and Lowell,' which is also filled with colors, hearts, trees, conclusions, and beginnings, all adding up to the kind of intimacy that caught my eye the morning I sat in the diner waiting for the sun to get stronger as I saw intimacy pass by while going about it's business, like something sung and felt by Sufjan Stevens on his new beautiful solitary and rich record filled with faith and disbelief and the resurrection of trust and dreams." — Hilton Als
|1. Death With Dignity|
|2. Should Have Known Better|
|3. All Of Me Wants All Of You|
|4. Drawn To The Blood|
|5. Fourth Of July|
|6. The Only Thing|
|7. Carrie & Lowell|
|9. John My Beloved|
|10. No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross|
|11. Blue Bucket Of Gold|