Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell

April 27, 2015

Sufjan Steven’s latest album is arguably his greatest yet. It is however, certainly the most honest and soul-baring of all his work. Entitled Carrie & Lowell after his mother and step-father, it traces childhood memories both painful and hopeful, as he confronts his emotions— or lack thereof, “My black shroud/ Holding down my feelings” (“Should Have Known Better”) — head on as he looks back on a turbulent childhood with a mentally-ill mother.

Filled with contemplations on death (“Death With Dignity,” “Fourth of July”), un-reconciled hurts (“Should Have Known Better,” “Drawn to the Blood”), and intense grief and loss (“The Only Thing”, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”), Stevens finally lays bare all of the emotions he’s kept hidden over the years. He both imagines and pursues various ways of dealing with the death of his mother (“Cutting my arm/ Cross hatch warm bath, Holiday Inn after dark” from “The Only Thing”; “Get drunk to get laid/I take one more hit when you depart” from “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”). The line “F*** me, I’m falling apart” says everything about his state of being without her. He looks to his faith, crying out, “How? God of Elijah/As fire to the sun/Tell me what I have done” in the song “Drawn to the Blood”, but ultimately finds that there is “no shade in the shadow of the cross” to offer him relief from his pain. He knows he cannot go back, and that “nothing can be changed/the past is still the past” (“Should Have Known Better”).

However, there are moments of light. “Eugene” is filled with memories of his step-father Lowell, who acted as a stabilizer for the five years he was married to Carrie, swimming lessons and visits to Emerald Park in Oregon being among them. In “Fourth of July” his mother helps him recall the times he spent at Tillamook Burn, and a happy memory of a certain Fourth of July while she is lying on her deathbed. In the present, however, Stevens seems to have only one bright spot in the midst of his grief, that of his niece, “the beauty that she brings, illumination” (“Should Have Known Better”). He holds on to her light and beauty until the end of the song like a last thread of hope, and a new way to make things right.

Musically, the melancholy and loss is evident throughout. It’s a soft sound, almost disappearing behind the lyrics at times, but then it shines through with his distinctive harmonies and layering. There is no shortage of sound here - organs, strings, synths- but it is not the bright melodies of albums past. The title track is the most reminiscent of his earlier work, and characteristically juxtaposes itself against more somber lyrics, but on the whole, there are quieter melodies, and the music comes in second behind what he is trying to get off his chest. There is no shortage of emotion or honesty in this album, and that is what makes the album shine. It acts as a small ray of hope that things can get better, and if this album is any indication, the same can be said for Stevens’ music. Things will only get bigger and better from here. But for now, this album provides what much musical reflection often lacks— an honest, unflinching look at what it means to deal with pain and loss. This is the album we desperately need.

LINDSEY WRIGHT. Lindsey Wright holds degrees in Biblical Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary (2012) and Music Performance from North Central University (2009). In her spare time, she likes to try new recipes, argue her point of view, read voraciously, and she dreams of adopting a weiner dog, despite having a cat she loves. You can find more of her writing at dearwilderness.wordpress.com

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Abram Major
06/13/2019 4:41am
Carrie and Lowell look like they are a good pair. I was able to get some scribendi.com discounts from them a couple of years ago, and that was useful for me. I hope they will be helping me out in the future, as well.
Wengenroth
12/29/2019 10:17pm
Gangaur Realtech is a professionally managed organisation specializing in real estate services where integrated services are provided by professionals to its clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying or investing in real estate.
merckseo
12/29/2019 10:18pm
Gangaur Realtech is a professionally managed organisation specializing in real estate services where integrated services are provided by professionals to its clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying or investing in real estate. Wengenroth
merckseo
12/30/2019 9:52am
I am continually hunting on the web down articles that can help me. There is clearly a ton to think about this. I think you made some great focuses in Features too. Continue working, incredible job ! 그래프게임
RankXone
12/31/2019 4:08am
Gangaur Realtech is a professionally managed organisation specializing in real estate services where integrated services are provided by professionals to its clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying or investing in real estate. Online Marketing Experte Wengenroth
cannabidiol for pain
02/26/2020 5:10am
I think this is definitely an amazing project here. So much good will be coming from this project. The ideas and the work behind this will pay off so much. cannabidiol for pain
asimseo
02/28/2020 3:04am
wow... what a great blog, this writter who wrote this article it's realy a great blogger, this article so inspiring me to be a better person Online Nikkah Nama and Court Marriage in Pakistan
towing service san jose
02/28/2020 3:34am
You've completed in excellent work. t suggest to my frtends ind personilly wtll certitnly dtgtt. t'm conftdent they'll be gitned from thts webstte. towing service san jose
asimseo
02/29/2020 1:19am
Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up. Denvercollege
website link
02/29/2020 1:30am
A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up website link
asimseo
02/29/2020 3:44am
I feel a lot more people need to read this, very good info! . Denverelysium
antminer
02/29/2020 3:44am
If you don"t mind proceed with this extraordinary work and I anticipate a greater amount of your magnificent blog entries.  antminer
interactive media sayt sifarişi
03/01/2020 12:24am
Заказ веб-сайта оценивается на основе возможностей вашей компании, ваших потенциальных клиентов и ваших бизнес-целей. Interactive media При заказе сайта вы должны принять окончательное решение как следующий владелец бизнеса. По мере роста вы можете корректировать сильные и слабые стороны сайтов своих конкурентов, а также проверять результаты панели разработки своего сайта, проверяя наличие слабых сторон или недовольство клиентов. SEO сервис держит ваш сайт в авангарде. Во-первых, если вы заинтересованы в наших службах семейства сайтов, нажмите кнопку ниже, чтобы определить некоторые функции веб-дизайна. Разработка сайтаinteractivemedia - сложный процесс. По этой причине рекомендуется полагаться на экспертов, которые могут помочь вам в разработке вашего веб-сайта. Наличие подробной информации о существующих активах конкурирующих компаний поможет вам принять правильные решения при создании сайта.
Pakistan amazon
03/02/2020 7:44am
Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging..

Rajput Seo
03/02/2020 7:44am
Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging..
Pakistan amazon
Rajput Seo
03/06/2020 6:56am
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. Thanks...
Sharpening Dental Instruments
Rajput Seo
03/08/2020 12:02am
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.
submit order
Naveed
03/08/2020 7:20am
I gotta favorite this website it seems very helpful .
healthpillsshop.com
Henry
03/16/2020 6:20am
Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I'm happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post.
movers in los angeles
Nimra
04/03/2020 9:51am
Wow what a Great Information about World Day its very nice informative post. thanks for the post. medical N95 masks for sale
Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

|
135 N Oakland Ave, Pasadena, CA 91182