Sufjan Stevens’ Breaks the Silence with Latest Album Carrie and Lowell
Indie folk Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens first captivated listeners with his successful album Illinois and unforgettable single “Chicago”. Right away, fans of Sufjan could list several reasons why he was great.His dreamy, breathy voice, combined with his poetic lyrics and transformative folk tunes make us feel calmer, breathe deeper, and live easier while we listen. After a five-year musical hiatus, Stevens returns to serenade us to serenity with his latest album Carrie & Lowell. Released on March 31, Carrie & Lowell is potentially Stevens’ most personal album. According to a press release as quoted by Pitchfork, all of Stevens’ 11 songs deal with "life and death, love and loss, and [the] struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love." Stevens has come to be known as a mythical artist, as many of his songs reflect the mystery of life and his spirituality.
Each song’s delicate guitar and piano notes, emotional vocals, and meaningful lyrics reflect Stevens’ sensitivity to such topics. The names in the album’s title are those of “Stevens’ mother and stepfather,” according to Pitchfork, which serves as a testament to Stevens’ devotion to his family. Also, all 11 songs function collectively to echo Stevens’ passion and appreciation for life itself.
The album opens with the serene and melancholy “Death With Dignity” and evokes nostalgic scenes from Stevens’ past. Listeners can enjoy the overall feelings of serenity found in song after song. Highlights include “All Of Me Wants All Of You”, “The Only Thing”, “Carrie & Lowell”, and the album single “No Shadow In The Shadow Of the Cross”. But, that doesn’t suggest that other songs aren’t worth a listen: this album begs to be repeated and deeply interpreted.
Prior to releasing Carrie & Lowell, Stevens churned out album after album: A Sun Came in 2000, Enjoy Your Rabbit in 2001, Michigan in 2003, and Seven Swans in 2004. After Illinois, Stevens took a musical hiatus until 2010 when he released The Age of Adz, an electronic-experimental album that differs greatly from his earlier music. Arguably with Carrie & Lowell, Stevens made a full return to his indie-folk roots. His compilation of acoustic melodies suggests a true sense of self, both as an artist and as a human being.
This album isn’t meant to be taken lightly; it is worth many play-throughs. With Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens calls us to reflect upon the span of our lives, and to grieve for those who no longer exist within the context of our everyday existence. For some essential soul-searching and self-reflection, take a listen—or a few—to Carrie & Lowell. Not only will life become clearer, but a deep appreciation for pure talent and true artistry will blossom.
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