One of the traits I admire most in music is fragility, and few display it more than Sufjan Steven. His new album ‘Carrie & Lowell’ is named after his stepfather and his mother, who passed away in 2012. It is full of songs so beautiful, so delicate, that at times it feels as if it is barely there.
Stylistically, it’s a return to the sparse, acoustic sound of earlier albums such as ‘Seven Swans’ and ‘Illinois’, after his more experimental detours of recent years. I’m somewhat conflicted about this, as I always admire an artist who experiments rather than just churning out almost identical albums year after year, but in this case I’m glad of his return to old territory. As an added bonus, the album features another of my favourite artists, Laura Veirs.
The whole album is wonderful, but ‘No Shade In The Shadow of Cross’ is a particular favourite, and as mentioned on NPR’s ‘All Songs Considered’ podcast, perhaps the most Sufjan Stevensy song title of all.