He’s written an orchestral masterpiece about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. He’s titled a track after a serial killer clown. He famously committed himself to writing an album for every state in the U.S. after admitting it was a promotional gimmick in 2009.
Sufjan Stevens, needless to say, has a penchant for odd behavior. But on All Delighted People, an EP in name only (the run time is about 60 minutes long), Stevens trades in goofy antics for a serious, introspective and often dark look inside himself. Stevens’s label Asthmatic Kitty called the EP a “dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui and Paul Simon’s ‘The Sounds of Silence.’”
On the 17-minute epic “Djohariah,” a seemingly endless ode to gospel rock replete with experimental guitar solos and choir vocals, Stevens shifts the focus away from his songbird vocals and creates an atmosphere of nearly depressing introspection.
Stevens’s ability to create a compelling mix of classical music with a pop twist hasn’t declined in the last few years, and All Delighted People is evidence that we have yet to see his best. It’s a delicate, wafer-thin masterpiece of folky melodies and haunting harmonies.
For fans of: Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Joanna Newsom