Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell...

So I had this whole review typed up, ready to go. You know the kind: a little bit of background about the artist, a few carefully constructed sentences that attempt to describe the record in the context of the artists earlier work. And there was a genuine effort at remaining coolly detached, objective because that’s what those who write about music are supposed to do, right?   Except I am first and foremost a music lover, someone who still finds magic in melody, who is still moved by a few simple chords and words that are sung with genuine heart and feeling. So I listened to Carrie & Lowell one more time last night. One final distraction free run through, an affirmation listen if you like, before publishing the few words I had pulled together about the record. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t publish those words because they didn’t reflect in any real way just how affecting the experience of listening to this record had been. Objectivity and cool detachment seemed to hold sway and because of that, they read as dishonest and insincere. So this is my attempt to start again, to convey  just how much beauty and compassion can be found in this heart-breaking music. Carrie & Lowell is a record that examines in moving detail Sufjan Stevens’ complex relationship with his mother. When he was just an infant his mother abandoned the family and spent most of the rest of her life battling alcoholism and depression before she passed away in 2012. Contact between the family and their absent mother was sporadic at best, with Steven’s recollections of her confined to a few faded childhood memories of summers spent with her and her husband at the time, Lowell Brams.  It is an album that attempts to address the...