Sufjan Stevens is special. He is not unique, he is special. He is all the more special because there are so many artists doing more or less exactly what he is doing. But they are not special. They are faceless and ordinary. Sufjan is different.
Carrie & Lowell is his best album since Illinois.
I guess it’s all about the charm, which might sound like vague praise, but then what else can I say? His melodies are lovely but not especially striking (“John My Beloved” is in fact a bit of a drag) and his arrangements are simple and stripped-down (“Come On! Feel The Illinois!” is a thing of the past). His voice is so brittle it threatens to fall apart any second. His lyrics are haunting yet painfully sentimental.
But there is this natural charm. Not even charisma – charm. Low-key charm. Carrie & Lowell is a record to live with.