Sufjan Stevens

Carrie & Lowell

2015
Seventh studio release from American multi-instrumentalist, an album of mellow indie-folk contemplating his mother’s death.

This album was released 193 weeks ago.

89% ±10% 51 reviews
# Song 4WIM
1 Death with Dignity
2 Should Have Known Better
3 All of Me Wants All of You
4 Drawn to the Blood
5 Eugene
6 Fourth of July
7 The Only Thing
8 Carrie & Lowell
9 John My Beloved
10 No Shade in the Shadow of The Cross
11 Blue Bucket of Gold
Rating Source
89% 4WIM Rating
100% Pretty Much Amaing His 2005 magnum opus Illinois and 2003’s similarly conceived Michigan were stunning works of storytelling and musicality – vivacious syntheses of distinctly American narratives with lushly orchestrated folk, jazz, and indie pop.
100% The Firenote Are they legit in some cases '€“ sure, but now take Sufjan Stevens and his seventh long player Carrie & Lowell.
100% Consequence of Sound He’s since drained his music of all that, but Carrie & Lowell isn’t a return to the tentative woodsy footprints of 2004’s Seven Swans.
100% PressPLAY His music is the sort that has influenced us, and many like us, in all sorts of ways; hell, we could write theses on the man and his work, given how rich every bit of his output has been so far.
100% Loud & Quiet Written immediately after and in response to the death of Stevens' estranged mother, Carrie, three years ago, 'Carrie & Lowell' is a stately, brief (by Stevens' standards) and intensely intimate album whose instrumentation is confined almost entirely to keyboards and plucked strings, with not a slither of orchestration or compositional flamboyance.
100% State The album’s not about Lowell; it’s not even about Carrie, particularly, as much as it is about the absence of her.
100% The Telegraph After the maximalist electronica of his last album, Age of Adz (2010), he has stripped his sound to a hushed heartbreak.
100% The Arts Desk That the album is Stevens’ reckoning with his mother’s death from stomach cancer in 2012 is no secret – she’s the titular Carrie, while Lowell is Stevens’ stepfather – but the lyrics are less straightforwardly autobiographical than vignettes as tattered as the portrait of the pair that forms the album’s cover art.
100% The Plain Leader The other half of the album's title refers to Stevens' stepfather, Lowell, who remains a positive influence on his life.
100% Glide Magazine Singing about his family, relationships, life’s banalities, places he’s loved and death, his songs entrance and enchant.
100% The A.V. Club At the end of Carrie & Lowell’s best song—when the gorgeous, gutting “John My Beloved” is already over, really—Sufjan Stevens draws in a sharp breath.
100% Tiny Mixtapes
100% Soundblab Sufjan is one of our greatest alternative artists, and after this album, in the entire alternative universe. However, Carrie and Lowell, from a musical standpoint, is a capstone of a musician with ADD. His body of work is like the most brilliant fireworks display that is tipped over and set off and all of us listeners run to see it explode in whatever direction Sufjan chooses.  If he wasn’t dreaming big early in his career to want to go to all fifty states and write an album about it (He only made two, Illinois and Michigan), he was rapping with Sisyphus, struggling through bizarre electronica on Age of Adz, and pausing in between it all to write 12 albums of Christmas music.  Musically, he has dabbled in more instruments, genres, and techniques than most any musician.  And still managed to build a cult and growing following.
100% Dagbladet
100% Gaffa (Sweden) Hans tanke att skriva ett album för varje delstat i USA verkar sedan länge vara förkastad, och istället har diskografin under de senaste åren adderat bland annat ett mastodontiskt julalbum och den experimentella – tillika något ojämna – skapelsen Age Of Adz, som i stunder liknar ett konstprojekt mer än en platta.
98% Absolute Punk
95% The 405 For all the stories woven around the John Wayne Gacys, Casimir Pulaskis, Abrahams, Men of Steel, all of the places like Michigan, Illinois(e), Chicago and the BQE that Stevens uses for his songs, there's also the sisters, brothers, friends, mother, father and lovers that he drops into his lyrics that have always hinted at personal stories to be told.
95% Paste Magazine And while the actual facts that the album is based on seem like they could provide a wealth of fertile ground to cultivate great art—and they do—there is also the possibility that the events could be too personal for listeners to relate to or to gain something of an understanding to apply to our own life.
93% Pitchfork She died of stomach cancer in 2012, but had abandoned Stevens much earlier, first when he was 1, then later, repeatedly ("when I was three, three maybe four, she left us at that video store," he sings on "Should Have Known Better").
91% Culture Collide These eleven songs depict Stevens wrestling with his mother’s death and her repeat abandonment of him and his love for her in spite of that.
91% The New Zealand Herald
90% Music OMH Sufjan Stevens has sometimes sounded so overwhelmed by the world that he has tried to capture all its wonder in each individual song he writes.
90% Slant Magazine Sufjan Stevens has had one of the most eclectic and ambitious, almost manic, careers in contemporary independent music.
90% No Ripcord
90% New Musical Express To this catalogue of sublime sadness we can now add Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie & Lowell’, named after his stepfather and his depressive, alcoholic and schizophrenic mother, who abandoned her family when Sufjan was 12 months old.
90% Drowned in Sound Sufjan Stevens has long conveyed great emotion in his music, often married to an admirable, outsized sense of ambition.
90% Austin Town Hall For years now Sufjan Stevens has been a household name, a staple when it comes to indie rock with both art and folk influences.
90% Shields Gazette THE Age of Adz, Sufjan Stevens’ last studio album, surely ranks among the most preposterous and brilliantly overblown in recent memory.
90% Chicken Ham Music Sufjan Stevens is known for making some of the most inventive and illustrious Indie music of the 2000s.
90% Sputnik
85% The Line of Best Fit Carrie & Lowell, however—though driven largely by a few linked themes—is not a concept album.
85% Under the Radar Magazine Though he adds touches of keyboards and electronic tones on songs like "Should Have Known Better," the centerpiece is Stevens' voice, and gentle accompaniment, as on the tender "All of Me Wants All of You."
83% Verdens Gang Hans forrige soloalbum, «Age Of Adz» (2010) var en ekstravagant kunstelektronikaoverdrivelse som fikk Radiohead til å fremstå omtrent like eksperimentelle som Bon Jovi.
83% Gaffa (Denmark) Sidst Stevens var decideret albumaktuel i eget navn, var med den udmærkede (og lydligt bombastiske) The Age of Adz fra 2010.
83% Nöjesguiden När Sufjan Stevens använder sitt sjunde album till att hantera sin svåra barndom blir det förstås en mörk och dyster upplevelse utan utrymme för The Age of Adz elektroniska experiment.
82% Earbuddy His regret at not exposing his feelings is physically palpable throughout the first half of the song in the desolate guitar arpeggios and haunting vocals, but as the story turns to acceptance of the past Sufjan finds himself able to give love forwards to his niece and the mood turns bright like a sunrise on a cold morning.
81% QRO Magazine
80% Dagens Nyheter Och detta är albumet där Sufjan sitter mestadels ensam med en gitarr och sjunger så stillsamt och sorgset och inte sällan i viskande falsett, om hur stark och underlig sorgen och längtan kan vara.
80% Irish Times At times, these songs are unbearably intimate; opening track Death With Dignity paints such a painfully evocative image of the inevitable, yet is kept afloat by the lithe, delicately plucked guitar notes that dance under Stevens’ hushed vocals.
80% Exclaim! Music
80% TimeOut
80% The Skinny
80% Rolling Stone Magazine (USA) Here, on his most emotionally draining album, he joins Nick Drake and Elliott Smith in the canon of artists who channel suicidal thoughts into impossibly pretty songs.
80% Awful Sounds And that’s really just his studio albums, excluding of course the Christmas records, film scores and the fantastically experimental All Delighted People EP.
80% Spin It’s been a decade since Stevens recorded a straightforward folk album, having kept busy with experimental electronic outings like 2010’s The Age of Adz, his 2009 symphony to The BQE, and an absurd amount of Christmas music.
80% The Guardian It’s just one of many confidences on this candid album that will have you pretending to your fellow commuters that something has lodged in your eye.
80% NOW Toronto Brooklyn indie folk icon Sufjan Stevens has written albums about geography, history and myths, but on his newest he turns inward to sing about his mother and stepfather.
80% DIY Magazine The album revolves around the death of his mother and tries to make sense of the unfathomable; of the loose wires and uncertainty and unanswered questions and bottomless feeling of loss that comes with losing a parent.
80% New York Daily News Stevens gave the album the names of both his mother and his stepfather, “Carrie and Lowell,” though it’s the former who dominates his imagination.
60% Pop Matters Instead, songs like the gorgeous “Death With Dignity” and wistful “Eugene” are built around muted acoustic guitar and understated banjo patterns.
50% Svenska Dagbladet