Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)

 |   |  <1 min read

Sufjan Stevens: Should Have Known Better
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)

This exceptional album is named for Stevens' schizophrenic and drug-addicted mother who died in 2012 and the stepfather (married to Carrie for five years when the singer was a young boy) who was his stability and currently runs Stevens' record label.

The songs fold back into the past but are also very much located in present emotions.

They find Stevens at his most revealing (“I forgive you mother”) and taking stock of the circumstances which shaped him (“Nothing can be changed, the past is still the past”).

As much as the damaged Carrie, here too is the loving presence of Lowell and there is much light in what could be bleakly dark ruminations.

That is due to Stevens' high, sometimes featherweight delivery, the return to a more simple delivery, the gentle arrangements for the backing vocals, strings and synths, and the mood of compassion throughout.

There are character sketches too – some of friends and lovers – and clearly holidays in Oregon were a refuge from the emotional chaos (“When I was, three maybe four, she left us at that video store”).

Even when he sings “we're all gonna die” it is more with philosophical acceptance than sober melancholy.

Heartfelt beauty given musical wings

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Gareth Thomas: Fizzy Milk (gareththomastunes.com)

Gareth Thomas: Fizzy Milk (gareththomastunes.com)

In a cover so good you want it album-size to frame, this second solo album by Auckland songwriter Gareth Thomas – formerly of Goodshirt – really does fizz with addictive pop which... > Read more

Ian McLagan: United States (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Ian McLagan: United States (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Many years ago it was my great pleasure to spend a bit of time with keyboard player Ian McLagan when he was in Auckland playing with an artist whom I have forgotten. McLagan -- who was, in the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER CATHERINE HOWARD looks to the past and future in the stars

GUEST WRITER CATHERINE HOWARD looks to the past and future in the stars

The day of the event, the transfer bus driver stops at his second scheduled pick up, but no one is there. However instead of promptly moving on, he swings himself down from driver’s... > Read more

Pecan crusted chicken breasts

Pecan crusted chicken breasts

In early 2005 Megan and I went on a drive around the Pacific Northwest of the States: San Francisco to Sacramento then up through Oregon to Seattle, and back down the coast. Before we left I... > Read more