Sufjan Stevens, Little Scream | Chicago Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Fri., April 24, 7:30 p.m. and Sat., April 25, 7:30 p.m. 2015
Price: sold out
The seventh album from whimsical Michigan folkie Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty), is named after his mother and stepfather. Lowell cofounded Asthmatic Kitty with Stevens in 1999, while Carrie, a schizophrenic who struggled with addiction, abandoned Stevens when he was a year old and was only sporadically involved in his life (she died from stomach cancer in 2012). Despite Stevens’s tenuous relationship with Carrie, he paints a loving, deep portrait of her (with all of her flaws), shading the silhouette of a mother we as listeners get to know as well as the man making the album about her. Many of the tender, disarming songs on Carrie & Lowell feature a cathartic vision of grief as well as an acknowledgment of the impression one person’s life can make on others, for better or worse. In remembering Sufjan’s final moments with Carrie, “Fourth of July” hits the hardest. The tune’s sparse, spectral instrumentation puts the focus on Stevens’s hushed vocals, which candidly recount a final conversation between mother and son. The pair ruminate on the process of death (“The hospital asked should the body be cast / Before I say good-bye”) and pepper their voiced regrets, desires, and final good-byes with pet names. Even though the declaration of eternal love fails to bring Carrie back to life—much to Stevens’s sorrow—it casts a blinding light on the rest of the world. —Leor Galil
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