Carrie & Lowell sounds like memory: it spans decades yet does not trade on pastiche or nostalgia. Stevens’s gauzy double-tracked vocals wash across the dashboard of long-finned, drop-top Americana, yet as we race towards the coast we are reminded that sunshine leads to shadow, for this is a landscape of terminal roads, unsteady bridges, traumatic video stores, and unhappy beds that provide the scenery for tales of jackknifed cars, funerals, and forgiveness for the dead. Each track in this collection of eleven songs begins with a fragile melody that gathers steam until it becomes nothing less than a modern hymn. Sufjan recounts the indignities of our world, of technological distraction and sad sex, of an age without either myths or miracle—and this time around, his voice carries the burden of wisdom. Carrie & Lowell accomplishes the rare thing that any art should achieve, particularly in these noisy and fragmented days: By seeking to understand, Sufjan makes us feel less alone.
Flora, Portland, Oregon (engineered by Tucker Martine)
Black Watch, Norman, Oklahoma (engineered by Chad Copelin and Jarod Evans)
April Base, Eau Claire, Wisconsin (engineered by Brian Joseph)
Pat Dillet’s studio somewhere midtown Manhattan
And at Sufjan’s office in Dumbo, Brooklyn
Some tracks were also recorded on an iPhone in a hotel room in Klamath Falls, Oregon
Mixed by Sufjan Stevens, Thomas Bartlett, and Pat Dillet
Sufjan Stevens mixes autobiography, religious fantasy, and regional history to create folk songs of grand proportions. More
recently, Sufjan released two albums in 2010: a generous EP (All Delighted People) and the full length The Age of Adz, a collection of songs partly inspired by the outsider artist Royal Robertson.