Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
Critic Score
Based on 47 reviews
2015 Ratings: #2 / 1008
Year End Rank: #2
User Score
2015 Ratings: #3
Liked by 626 people
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XS Noize

Carrie and Lowell will haunt you and draw you back again and again to try and understand each rich emotional layer of the album. It is a moving journey through grief and loss, beautiful and melancholy.

Evening Standard
At first glance there’s not much to it — plucked acoustic guitar and banjo, meek vocals and occasional synth shimmering far in the distance. But lyrically it devastates, exploring the death of his mother, Carrie, in 2012, adolescence and family life with her and his stepfather, Lowell.
The Arts Desk
The lyrics are part stream of consciousness, part diary entries, presented without need for context or elaboration.
Spill Magazine

Since 2002’s Enjoy Your Rabbit, Stevens has risen to critical acclaim with his unique brand of trippy acoustic and banjo folk rock; his songwriting and overall artistry get seem to get stronger every album. Carrie & Lowell is his best collection of songs to date.

The Telegraph

He lays his blackest thoughts on a bed of prettily plucked acoustic guitar and piano with just a few ambient additions.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

Entertainment Weekly

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


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.

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

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.


A painful but rewarding listen, with "Fourth Of July" and "The Only Thing" among his finest songs.

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.

Drowned in Sound

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

FLOOD Magazine

Carrie & Lowell is a miracle of aesthetic balance—a calm and considered confession. It is the roaring in your ears as you look out to sea with the entirety of the known world behind you.


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.


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

Northern Transmissions

There is much to love about Carrie & Lowell for both longtime fans, and those finally looking to hear what this Sufjan guy is about. It is quintessentially him, but offers a new side that is so human and powerful.

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. 

Spectrum Culture

Stevens has always dwelled on the grand mysteries and big questions of life. But on Carrie & Lowell he is stripped bare, revealing his deepest wounds.

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.


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

The Independent

Rarely have his revelations been as direct, or as personal, as on Carrie & Lowell, a cathartic exercise exploring the effect of his estranged mother Carrie’s death on him two years ago.

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.

The Irish Times
It's an album that you'll need time to process, but it's an achingly beautiful tribute.
Q Magazine
Unquestionably his finest album to date.
Record Collector
He peppers the album with very evocative, specific references that often sound like childhood memories (“The man who taught me to swim couldn’t quite say my first name”), creating an intimacy that many of his previous records have lacked.
The Sydney Morning Herald
The stripped-down, softly-played set foregrounds Stevens' poetic, pained words, which have the specificity of memory and the quality of memoir.
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.


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.

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.

The Observer

Carrie & Lowell is so dark and deep, those of a sensitive disposition might need to rehydrate once they remove their headphones.


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.


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.


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.

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.

The Needle Drop

Suf(j)an "Subaru" Stevens comes through with an incredibly sad, personal, and subtle record with Carrie & Lowell.


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.


You haven't truly experienced Sufjan's music until you've ugly-cried your way through Fourth Of July...

and John My Beloved... and Blue Bucket of Gold... and Should Have Known Better...


I need to hug my mom


This sujafun man crys a lot


Llore mucho no tengo nada mas que decir


one of the most perfect albums to listen to at 5 in the morning after pulling an all nighter while hearing the birds outside start to chirp like mad (totally not based off of a thing that i just did/happened to me)

outside of that though, this album's beautiful. the lyrics are crushing, the concept's fucking depressingly beautiful, sufjan's voice fits so well with all of it too. this is the first album of his ive ever listened to in full, and it makes me want to listen to more of his stuff


Am I weird for crying to this ?

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Added on: January 12, 2015