There are tons of great releases planned for 2015. It seems only right that we should talk about them before they even come out. Hence the new occasional series – The Anticipation Game.
Sufjan Stevens is back at it in 2015. After a lengthy hiatus following the tragically misunderstood The Age of Adz, Stevens has designs to return to a more sedate season of his career with a more pensive and somber album called Carrie & Lowell. Early reaction to this artistic development are very positive as people are mostly relieved that Stevens seems to have jettisoned the experimental noise of Adz.
Stevens began leaking out singles a couple of months back as the release was announced. The first track signaled the new direction with clarity:
Yes, the sound is reminiscent of Seven Swans, but I’ll argue that this song involves much more alchemy than one would think at first. Sufjan is not doing a 180 here and retreating to the comfortable folk environment he once occupied while abandoning his more recent art. Listening to these lyrics we find that he is, perhaps, finding comfort there as his source material becomes tragically personal. While Adz seemed to grow out of a place of romantic frustration, this song and this album appear to spring from a garden of familial bereavement and complication reflection upon that loss.
Stevens has acknowledged that this album was written about the death of his mother (the Carrie of the title) and his relationship with her and his step father (Lowell). Stevens has hinted at the broken relationship he had with his mother and how it affected his childhood previously in songs like Romulus. Now his mother is not estranged, but deceased.
In the second released track, Steven continues the rumination, wishing he had written his mother a letter to air his feelings towards her and, perhaps, seek closure of some kind.
Now today we can hear the title track (if we’re willing to scroll a bit) here at the 33:00 mark as it debuted on BBC radio.
I’m pretty excited to get my ears on this album. Sufjan Stevens is a fantastic song writer and I anticipate that this album will be a great one. I enjoyed The Age of Adz quite a lot, but I will also welcome a more stripped down album that showcases his writing and wonderful voice. And if you hated Adz, relish this album. You never know what he will do next.
Carrie & Lowell drops on 3/31 from Asthmatic Kitty Records.