- Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
CRITIC SCORE
90
Based on 31 reviews
2015 Rank: #3 / 718
USER SCORE
87
Based on
892 ratings

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
Consequence of Sound

Carrie & Lowell isn’t a return to the tentative woodsy footprints of 2004’s Seven Swans. It’s an album hollowed by grief, as expansive as Adz but without the verve.

100
Pretty Much Amazing

Stevens has finally revealed himself to be the person in his first-person pieces, and his songwriting lifts itself to new heights for that admission.

100
A.V. Club

It’s tricky territory to navigate in these cynical times, and hardened hearts and ears might find it off-putting. But meet Carrie & Lowell on its terms and it’s revelatory.

100
Loud and Quiet

For the first time in his career, Stevens has removed all the artifice and high-concept safety curtains from around his work and dealt, straight, with his own life in all its unflinching ugliness. That he’s managed to do it with such poise, hope, quiet power and affecting grace is a musical and emotionally cathartic triumph.

100
The Guardian

The music matches the lyrics, managing to be both overwhelming and understated: melodies match sentiment with perfect judgment. Carrie & Lowell is a delight in every way, surely one of the albums of the year.

95
The 405

As long as Stevens continues to pursue the unanswerable and chase down myths and ghosts, he'll continue to make incredible music. Carrie & Lowell is just the latest in a long line of unimpeachable achievements.

95
Paste

Carrie & Lowell is a demonstration of why Stevens sings songs, of why we listen to songs: to feel less alone, to make sense of the things that are hardest to make sense of. Hopefully it proves as rewarding to the singer as it is for his audience.

93
Pitchfork

This record is a return to the spare folk of Seven Swans, but with a decade's worth of honing and exploration packed into it. It already feels like his most classic and pure effort.

91
Entertainment Weekly

With its quiet meditations on mental illness, God, and death, Carrie is a hauntingly beautiful bummer.

90
Slant Magazine

For one thing, he hasn't made an album this restrained in its sonic palette since 2004's Seven Swans ...  For another, he's never produced an album this nakedly autobiographical, so stripped of complex conceptual trappings

90
Drowned in Sound

A collection of songs as captivating, poignant and finally, ultimately, redemptive as any that Stevens has produced.

90
musicOMH

Carrie And Lowell is an introspective, deeply thoughtful album but it deftly avoids self-indulgence. It feels like a healing process, not just for its creator, but for its audience too.

90
NME

No matter how desperate Sufjan gets ...he’s resolutely serene, his emotion swathed in glistening guitar tones and angelic harmonies, spooling out his genius as casually as breathing.

90
No Ripcord

Stevens invites us to peer into a cathartic moment in his life without any trace of irony, bound by his faith, the geniality of his compositions often belying the grief that hides beneath the surface.

90
Sputnikmusic

Shared with us in the most intimate of atmospheres, it’s so threadbare that you might as well be sitting in his apartment with him as he sings and plays you his life story.

90
American Songwriter

Carrie & Lowell demonstrates, brilliantly and harrowingly, over and over again, how life’s most valuable lessons can only be gleaned by enduring its worst circumstances.

90
Clash

It may well be our first insight into the real Sufjan. It's heavy, but so very beautiful.

85
The Line of Best Fit

Despite its light-handed approach, Carrie & Lowell strikes with a sort of urgency unparalleled across the composer's 15-year career. 

85
Under The Radar

Carrie & Lowell is the sound of Stevens trying to process this loneliness, and to find some peace and kinship through his music. That he can create such beauty in such sorrow is, without exaggeration, the very reason art came to be.

80
Time Out London

Despite soul-baring moments, it almost feels like we learn more about Carrie than we do her son; he remains a beautiful enigma.

80
Exclaim!

It's Stevens' own life and relationships that he mines here with his trademark deftness and nuance. And gosh, what agonizing, cathartic beauty he's shared.

80
DIY

This is a record of searing honesty and stark soul-bearing emotion.

80
AllMusic

Carrie & Lowell is the most harrowingly personal work Stevens has offered us to date; it also ranks with his most skillfully crafted albums despite its spartan approach.

80
The Skinny

Lyrically it's uncompromising, dark and surprisingly direct – mentions of blood, death and ghosts are plastered all over its 11 tracks – but there's a real beauty to Carrie & Lowell that shines through the darkness.

80
Rolling Stone

Stevens strips his sound far enough to reveal his deepest anguish; neither the Disney-style orchestras of 2005's Illinois nor the synth-pop-as-craft-project of 2010's The Age of Adz peek through his acoustic fingerpicking and warm-milk voice.

80
Spin

Though it’s easily his best and most powerful album since 2005’s Illinois, it never quite reaches the same sweeping highs of that epic concept album. But this effort is a success on its own terms, hushed as they may be.

80
FasterLouder

You won’t walk away humming the tunes, but Carrie and Lowell will stay with you. Sufjan has prettier albums, and sweeter albums, but none has the impact of Carrie and Lowell.

80
NOW Magazine

While death and pain are major players in this collection of songs, the record is more about love than tragedy - although it can still make you bawl your eyes out if you listen to the words closely enough.

80
Mojo

A tender, affecting album that, through its jumble of religious allusions, nature imagery, classical references, half-remembered visions and overwhelming sense of loss, has a simple message.

60
PopMatters

The trouble isn’t that Stevens hasn’t mastered this brand of wispy folk-pop—it’s that he has, on album after album, leaving little that’s new to explore.

SiberianBreaks
78
The man last responsible for eclectic, maximalist, Disney sing-alongs has sunken down into an emotional mess writing acoustic tearjerkers revolving around the death of a loved one and cherished, childhood memories. Carrie & Lowell is quite bare and hollow in instrumentation at times too much for its own good, but still impossibly heavy with its hauntingly candid themes. After releasing some of the most grandiose projects in indie music, Carrie & Lowell could probably be Sufjan's most ... read more
austincrane235
94
Everything about this album screams "Authentic". No filter, no Photoshop, the feelings in this album are Sufjan's, straight from the heart.

Best Track: all of them
100
best of the year. my god.
thisisabtlgrnd
84
Quite quiet, quite sad, this album is not for casual listening. Commit to it, though, and it will break your heart. Reminds me of last year's Benji, but still very much in Sufjan's style and perhaps even more depressing because of its dreary "We're all gonna die" outlook.

Emotional content aside, though, it's a gorgeous record and a powerful return for Sufjan, if not necessarily a sunny one.

Fav songs: Fourth of July, Eugene, The Only Thing, No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross, ... read more
94
he proves that mourning is about looking forward as much as looking backward.
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Track List
  1. Death With Dignity
  2. Should Have Known Better
  3. All of Me Wants All of You
  4. Drawn to the Blood
  5. Fourth of July
  6. The Only Thing
  7. Carrie & Lowell
  8. Eugene
  9. John My Beloved
  10. No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
  11. Blue Bucket of Gold


Added on: January 12, 2015