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Sufjan Stevens may be one of the most highly regarded artists you’ve never hear of. Website Best Albums Ever ranked him as the number 59 artist of all-time.1 He comes in behind Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, and Prince, but ahead of Stevie Wonder and Green Day. (Charged with a near impossible task, the list is actually pretty good.) The album received praise from all directions. Metacriticgave the Carrie and Lowell an incredible score of 90, and The Guardian gave it five stars.2
What I Think
I became a Sufjan Stevens fan after hearing his song “Casimir Pulaski Day” from the album Illinois. He fearlessly makes use of any instrument at hand, varying from orchestral sounds to stripped back acoustic sounds. Carrie and Lowell is another great album by Stevens, and quite possible his most personal. Lyrically, Stevens’ poetry has few rivals.
The song Fourth of July gives me chills. It’s written about the last talk Stevens had with his mother in the hospital before her death. The verses alternate between words from Stevens and words from his mother.
Did you get enough love, my little dove
Why do you cry?
And I’m sorry I left, but it was for the best
Though it never felt right
My little Versailles
Where It Fits
This album is too heavy to listen to all of the time, but it’s to powerful to ignore for long. When I need to reminisce or have some time in contemplation, I’ll put on Carrie and Lowell and settle in for a thoughtful listen. Sufjan Stevens’ music is haunting and beautiful and worth a listen.
For more info on Sufjan Stevens and Carrie and Lowell, check out Pitchfork’s interview with him here:
2 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_%26_Lowell