Sufjan Stevens // Carrie & Lowell
Carrie & Lowell finds Stevens examining his relationship with his troubled mother, a person he loved despite the emotional aches she caused him.
Carrie & Lowell
It seems so weird that Sufjan Stevens is almost 40. It doesn't seem that long ago that the youthful-looking multi-instrumentalist was singing about the joys of Chicago, but on Carrie & Lowell, there's a weariness that wasn't to be found on past albums. Even songs like the heartbreaking "Casimir Pulaski Day" still presented Stevens as a fresh-faced, yet extremely talented musician, but his latest album displays a man who's gone through some trying times. Most similar to the sparse folk of 2004's Seven Swans, Carrie & Lowell finds Stevens examining his relationship with his troubled mother, a person he loved despite the emotional aches she caused him. Songs like "Should Have Known Better" and the gut-wrenching "Fourth of July" present an artist who is unafraid to show his vulnerability, all while wrapping his stories in gorgeous soundscapes that seem as beautifully fragile as they are emotionally heavy, and the album as a result is tremendous. – Alex Bieler