Today Sufjan Stevens’ released his 7th studio album “Carrie & Lowell” which was inspired by the 2012 death of his mother (Carrie) and the family trips they took to Oregon in Stevens’ childhood. His stepfather is also included in the album’s title. Stevens’ mother was bipolar and schizophrenic and suffered from drug addiction and substance abuse. His stepfather Lowell is still such a big part of his life that he currently runs Sufjan’s label Asthematic Kitty. In an interview with Pitchfork Stevens’ explained his need for going back to his roots with Carrie & Lowell
“With this record, I needed to extract myself out of this environment of make-believe. It’s something that was necessary for me to do in the wake of my mother’s death—to pursue a sense of peace and serenity in spite of suffering. It’s not really trying to say anything new, or prove anything, or innovate. It feels artless, which is a good thing. This is not my art project; this is my life.”
After hearing the heartbreaking lyrics on Carrie & Lowell, the lyrics from previous album tracks such as “Romulus” (“Once when our mother called/ She had a voice of last year’s cough/ We passed around the phone/ Sharing a word about Oregon”) from his 2003 album Michigan, and “The Seer’s Tower” (“Oh, my mother, she betrayed us, but my father loved and bathed us,”) from his 2005 album Illinois, and many other tracks from earlier albums that touch on his relationship or lack there of, with his mother Carrie. In each song though, you’ll notice that he never speaks ill of her, and instead is always talking about a constant yearning to be close to her, felling her everywhere (“I love you more than the world can contain/ In its lonely and ramshackle head,”).
I am very excited to give this album a full listen beginning to end because if anyone can tell a captivating story, it’s Sufjan Stevens. And judging from the singles I have heard prior to this release are beautiful, tragic, and thought-provoking. It’s very special that we get invited into Stevens’ subconscious and are able to relive his somewhat dark childhood with him, I don’t know about you but I think Sufjan could use a few hugs :). Let’s all be supportive of his decision to bare his soul for his many fans by purchasing this album in either Vinyl, Digital, or Disc format. Then light some candles, grab a box of tissues and listen up. Enjoy!
As you may have heard, Sufjan Stevens has a new album titled “Carrie & Lowell” coming out March 31st (you can pre-order it here). Along with that he’s planned a tour. Check out the first single from the album “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”. Is it just me or do you hear bits of Iron & Wine’s version of “Such Great Heights“?