Sufjan Stevens
Carrie & Lowell

Released: 30th March 2015
Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records

“Spirit of my silence I can hear you, But I’m afraid to be near you, And I don’t know where to begin, And I don’t know where to begin” is the opening lyric to ‘Death With Dignity’ from the new album Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens. In all the years that I have been listening to music and songwriters who have poured their emotions and feelings into song, I don’t think I have ever come across such a powerful lyric which deals with the subject of death and loss and the confusion that accompanies it, that feeling of not knowing what to do with yourself when someone close to you is no longer around.

Carrie and Lowell is a masterpiece of an album which sees Sufjan Stevens pour his heart out into his songs as he attempts to deal with the death of his mother who left him with his step dad at a young age trying to make sense of the world around him. Death is not an easy topic to deal with and some might not want to listen to someone sing about death, that however would be a serious mistake. This really is an album that everyone needs to hear, it is emotional, sad and beautiful all at the same time and an album in which everyone will find something they can relate to and which will help people deal with loss in their own lives.

It is pointless picking highlights from this album as Carrie and Lowell is a masterpiece that needs to be listened to from start to finish. It’s one of those albums that you need to put on at night, draw the curtains, close your eyes and just allow every delicate sound and every heart-wrenching lyric float inside your head as you begin to understand and feel the pain Sufjan is going through.

Although I am not going to use this review to pick highlights, as I feel you need to discover this album for yourself, I would like to highlight ‘Eugene’ with its delicate guitar melodies and lyrics that will be sure to make you cry “From the bed near your death, and all the machines that made a mess, Far away the falcon flew, Now I want to be near you, What’s left is only bittersweet, For the rest of my life, admitting the best is behind me, Now I’m drunk and afraid, wishing the world would go away, What’s the point of singing songs, If they’ll never even hear you?”. If those lyrics do not bring a tear to your eye, then I am afraid you have no heart.

I hope that writing these sad and beautiful songs helped Sufjan come to terms with the death of his mother and begin to make sense of the world as, by sharing his heart in Carrie and Lowell, he has given us all a gift that we really need to treasure.

Steve Tay

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