Preview: Sufjan Stevens
Elusive musician appears at the Edinburgh International Festival as part of a UK tour
This article is from 2015.
From electronic concept albums about the Chinese zodiac cycle to rap collaborations, Christmas music and ballet scores, Sufjan Stevens has never shied from operating at the fringes of the unorthodox and opaque.
This year saw Detroit-born Stevens return with album number seven, Carrie & Lowell, an existential meditation on ‘life and death, love and loss, and the artist’s struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love’, as he sought to come to terms with the recent loss of his mother (who, along with his stepfather, the record is named after).
A return to ascetic instrumentation and Stevens’ folk roots seemed apposite considering the emotive themes of the album (the refrain of ‘we’re all going to die’ features at one point), with the feeling of catharsis poised on a razor-thin tipping point against that of despair throughout. One of the first popular music artists to be included as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, Stevens’ rare European tour schedule over the past decade always has him marked as a ‘must see’, but even for such an inexplicable and perpetually engrossing innovator, it’s this current chapter of his career which feels unmissable
Playhouse, 473 2000, 30 Aug, 8pm, £20–£30, sold out.