Sufjan Stevens' sparse, new album "Carrie & Lowell" is named after his mother and stepfather and is a brilliant examination of his complicated relationship with them written shortly after her death in 2012.
Stevens mother was bipolar and schizophrenic. she abandoned him many times, first at the age of one. Many of the delicately arranged songs sacrifice Stevens’ usual big picture type bravado for a minimal number of instruments and the focus clearly put on the lyrics which are equally simple and to the point.
Some of the songs deal with his stepfather who is involvled with Stevens’ record label, their releationship is a more positive one and creates a hopefulness missing from the songs about his mother.
At the end the songs turn to God and Stevens says it’s something that was necessary to do in the wake of his mother’s death—to pursue a sense of peace and serenity in spite of suffering. Explaining the album’s directness, Stevens says: “This is not my art project; this is my life."
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