WVAU’s #2 Album of 2015: "Carrie & Lowell" by Sufjan Stevens

Luke Palermo

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Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sufjan Stevens‰’ musical journey has left few territories uncharted – over the course of his career, the Detroit native has explored acoustic folk, ambient rock, orchestral ballads, electronic, and everything in between. But on his latest album, he strips everything down to his humble acoustic beginnings.

The scarcity of elements besides the acoustic guitar serve to amplify their impact. “Should Have Known Better‰” takes a sudden turn into a gentle electronic beat that lifts the entire experience into angelic brilliance while the ethereal vocal layering at the end of “Death With Dignity‰” simultaneously evoke dread and hopefulness.

All things considered, Carrie & Lowell is a masterpiece of a soft-folk album. The compositions and complexity of the tracks are comparatively simpler to everything that Stevens has released in recent years, with most of the album being little more than just his voice and an acoustic guitar and most tracks clocking in at less than 4 minutes. Stevens‰’ careful picking and haunting voice overwhelm the listener with emotion as he softly sings of death, rejection, love, and what the point of everything is.