STYLE: Roots/Acoustic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 10205-9678 LABEL: Rough Trade RTRADCD162 FORMAT: CD Album RRP: £13.99
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
IN THE MAINSTREAM Sufjan Stevens is a little bit of an enigma. Born in Michigan and currently gaining a reputation in New York, this album was originally intended as a side project but it's caught critics' attention. Now Stevens is becoming a bit of a folk hero (literally) in the alt roots scene. There's a beautiful melancholy intrinsic in these songs that are led by Sufjan's amazing banjo playing. Not many albums have a banjo as lead instrument but this works well! Like the work of Brother Danielson who produced this album, there is something wonderfully quirky here. From the opening repetitive almost chant-like strains of the opening "All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands" to the closing "The Transfiguration", Stevens' spiritual concerns are more to the fore than on previous material. Favourites for me are "In The Devil's Territory" where roots and electric musical elements are effectively mixed to create some dramatic moments and the more straight forward "The Dress Looks Nice On You" which has a gentle innocence. There's a surprising cohesiveness here despite the fact that these were all songs that Sufjan felt didn't fit anywhere else.
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