Sufjan Stevens new album Carrie & Lowell returns to the singer-songwriter's indie folk roots. Inspired by the passing of his mother Carrie in 2012, the 11-track, self-produced offering is Sufjan's first new material since his Christmas-themed Silver & Gold.
Recorded at his home studio in Brooklyn, the record is surprisingly minimal in comparison to his recent work. Much of the album sounds as if it could have been done on a 4-track recording device. In an age that capitalizes on technology, it's a nice change to let production take passenger seat to the songs.
Carrie & Lowell moves in the opposite direction of 2010's maximalist Age of Adz, which was dominated by electronic orchestration. You'll hear a little bit of that on this album, but it's much more scarce. When it does hit, on tracks like "Should Have Known Better," "All of Me Wants All of You," and "Blue Bucket of Gold," he creates otherworldly harmonies that maximize impact.
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