Album review: Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie & Lowell’


Four stars

Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell

“The only thing that keeps me from cutting my arm/Cross hatch, warm bath, Holiday Inn after dark.” Death stays near the surface of Sufjan Stevens’ latest album—the crushing loss of his mother Carrie three years ago, the inescapability of his own demise (and all of ours)—yet like so much of his music, the intense Carrie & Lowell uplifts even as it distresses. That’s a tribute to Stevens’ advanced compositional skills, his still-wondrously pure voice and his words, which in this case tell stories of an often-absent parent (and her husband, Stevens’ stepfather Lowell) and their time spent together—and apart. “When I was 3, 3 maybe 4, she left us at that video store,” Stevens sings on “Should Have Known Better,” before renouncing bitterness for regret: “I should have wrote a letter, explaining what I feel.” Ultimately he did, in the form of this devastatingly raw, immensely rewarding record.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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