sufjanstevens

Contributed by: Grace Trimper.

Artist: Sufjan Stevens.

Album: Carrie & Lowell.

Release Date: March 31, 2015.

For the first time in five years (not including his Christmas albums), singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens has graced us with brand-spanking new tunes. Though not officially released until March 31st, his seventh album, Carrie & Lowell, has been leaked for streaming. The musical scrapbook, inspired by his late mother, departs from the complex, technical sounds he experimented with in his last album, Age of Adz, and instead revisits his roots, stripping down the troubadour-rock vibes we see on his earlier albums to create a somber, lo-fi folk ambience.

In his latest effort, Stevens delivers eleven melancholy and pared-down yet ethereal tracks, using not much more than delicate fingerpicking, airy piano, and the hushed, layered vocals that are so characteristic of Sufjan Stevens. He pairs this musical minimalism with dark, intimate lyrics as a tribute to the mother he lost in 2012.

Singles “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” and “Should Have Known Better” were released to preview the album in the first few months of 2015, a smart move since this work requires multiple listens to fully appreciate Stevens’ subdued artistry.  One day, I listened to “No Shade” three times in a row while staring into the abyss.  No shame.  “Like my mother/ Give wings to a stone/ It’s only the shadow of a cross.” Like the rest of the album, it’s eerie, sweet, and sorrowful, all at once.

Listen to the album at diffuser.fm.

4/5

Recommended if you like: Simon & Garfunkel, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine.

Soundtrack to your life: Driving through fog, crying into a cup of black coffee, watching a moth fly around.

Receives airplay on: GraceJam on Mondays from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM.