Good news for everybody who’s been patiently waiting for Sufjan Stevens to dispense with electro-pop experiments, orchestral suites, bizarro hip-hop excursions, and twisted Christmas songs: He’s just announced Carrie & Lowell, an album that’s being billed as a return to his “folk roots.” A trailer accompanying the release includes a snippet of placid, grandly sweeping folk that seems to affirm that notion. A press release notes that the album is titled for Stevens’ late mother and his stepfather, who are depicted on the cover, and that it’s about “life and death, love and loss, and the artist’s struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love.” Casey Foubert, Laura Veirs, Nedelle Torrisi, Sean Carey, Ben Lester, and Thomas Bartlett are listed as collaborators on the album. Watch the trailer below.
Asthmatic Kitty Records provides context:
These are aggressive times. Each morning we awaken to a psychic blitz of breaking news, social outrage, and millions of images and voices shrieking look at me and this onslaught does not cease until late at night when the last glowing screen fades to black. This world demands our attention with one hand and destroys it with the other. That such a noisy age can deliver an album as graceful and honest as Carrie & Lowell should reassure anyone losing faith these days. Let no one say philosophy is dead, for here is a 44-minute meditation on mortality, memory, and faith.
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 myth or miracle—and this time around, his voice carries the burden of wisdom. Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait. If youth knew, if age could.
Carrie & Lowell tracklist:
01 “Death With Dignity”
02 “Should Have Known Better”
03 “All Of Me Wants All Of You”
04 “Drawn To The Blood”
05 “Fourth Of July”
06 “The Only Thing”
07 “Carrie & Lowell”
09 “John My Beloved”
10 “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross”
11 “Blue Bucket Of Gold”
First single “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross” arrives mid-February.