Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

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Sufjan Stevens

Carrie & Lowell

unnamedIf you’ve never heard of Sufjan Stevens or maybe just brushed against him on Spotify, Pandora or perhaps a NYC Subway, you probably didn’t know what was churning beneath the surface or that we was capable of this. Tragic and beautiful his words and music are simple and bare yet as deep and true as the Atlantic.

With his latest effort Carrie & Lowell Stevens takes on death, specifically that of his mother. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard another album that was so directly dedicated to someone’s death and I definitely can’t imagine anyone has ever done it better.  Stevens dances on this jagged edge by allowing his loss to wash over him and by documenting the experience with stunning detail. This album is a deep plunge into sadness but it is certainly not depressing and when he sings “I’ve got nothing to prove” on the opening track Death with Dignity you believe he’s up to task of defining the tragic experience of losing his mother. His relationship with his mother and his approach to this album are explained in this recent interview with Pitchfork and it’s very helpful when listening.

Through the entirety of Carrie & Lowell, you’ll feel like Stevens is whispering a secret into your ear that he’s been keeping for decades; Not skeletons in his closet but rather tales from a world he’s kept to himself for too long. Maybe it’s because I lost my mother not too long ago but this album just feels like love. The kind of love you feel for your mother, unconditional yet awkward and frightening to lose.

By the way, Carrie & Lowell is also a pleasure to listen to. How he is able to take in these experiences and write about them so graciously while also creating an album that melts in your mouth is, as they say, genius. No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross is my favorite track on the album and like this entire album seems to lack an end and a beginning. Death with DignityThe Only Thing and Should Have Known Better are also great.

Sufjan Stevens takes the stage at Boston Calling this Friday – 5/27