Carrie & Lowell
, the 7th studio album from Sufjan Stevens, is a bare, deeply personal depiction of his relationship with his mother. The lyrics pierce through you as Sufjan struggles with his feelings of grief, incompleteness and emotional dissonance. The instrumentation is delicate and exposed, sometimes sparse to the point of ambience such as in Blue Bucket of Gold
and the radiant ending of Drawn to the Blood
. The warm descending melody which pours in half way through The Only Thing
is one of the few exceptions, and the album builds itself around these devasting moments of pure emotion. Fourth of July
is perhaps the most heart-breaking of them all, capturing a final conversation between Sufjan and Carrie on her deathbed. The emotional weight of the story
behind the album is intrusive, overwhelming and often hard to handle. But the powerful atmosphere which this evokes makes Carrie & Lowell
not just one of the best albums of 2015, but of the last few years.