After reaching such heights, however, Stevens momentum dissipated. Symphonic projects and increasingly baroque live shows obscured his talent for simple songcraft, and 2010’s electronically enhanced, boundary pushing The Age of Adz (2010) proved polarizing. It seemed, like many musicians before him, Stevens had peaked too soon.
What a revelation, then, is Carrie & Lowell. Released to little fanfare, it soon became his most garlanded – and fastest selling – album to date. Over eleven concise tracks, it follows the relationship of his bipolar, drug-addicted mother and his beloved stepfather. Where Stevens before folded the grandiose – Christianity, history, technology – into his music, here the personal is front and centre, couched in lyrics both elegant and direct. The result, scored largely for voice and guitar with an underlying buzz of percussion and electronics, is astonishingly pure and intimate. Despite his sizeable discography, it fees like listening to a new voice for the first time.
In support of this extraordinary release, Sufjan will play two nights in the Royal Festival Hall. If recent US appearances are anything to go by, he will supplement his new works with highlights from past albums, backed by a small, unadorned band. Expect a night of shiveringly emotional ballads and soaring paeans. Be sure to book on the morning of release – this is his first solo appearance
|What||Sufjan Stevens, Royal Festival Hall|
Royal Festival Hall
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP
|Nearest tube||Acton Town (underground)|
On 02 Sep 15, 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Southbank Centre website|