Sufjan Stevens has morphed through a few different personas through the duration of his career. If you are familiar with his past incarnations, this is a definite move back to Sufjan as fans first knew him; sparse and soulful. He leaves behind the electronic spectacle of The Age of Adz behind for his earlier stripped down folk leanings. The album is so soft and unassuming that it’s almost like he’s leaning down to whisper a secret in your ear, but it’s not a happy one.
He unflinchingly delves into some pretty personal family memories that turned into clinging personal demons. Named after his parents, the album is disarming as a confessional autobiography and bringing that to life is never for an instant disconnected from the music. Though it still comes down to the voice and the guitar, the production value plays a very important roll in that it’s so deftly handled that it’s really only noticeable if you’re actively thinking about it. That is a very hard trick to pull off with music so bare.
The show based around this album should be quite an experience and if you want to take it in, an Aug. 14 ticket to the 25th Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival will get you there. — Misty Kaiser