Afternoon in Illinois
It is cloudy here. It is mid afternoon. There is a wall to paint, a coffee to finish, and the rain will come soon. I am listening to a critically acclaimed album by Sufjan Stevens - Illinois. I think he writes good music, usually very soft and calm, even softer than my own instrumental tunes. I am listening to the entire album – it is very long. I think I knew only “Chicago” before. I am not paying too much attention to the lyrics; instead I am just enjoying the weather. But the lyrics, they feel to be well written, telling touching stories along with the strings and trumpets. I am almost halfway of the album. The songs sound a bit erudite, with well-crafted arrangements.
In the tune “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts", besides the strings and everything, there are electric guitar and drums for a moment. In the album, there are lots of crazy, unexpected stuff, everywhere – they are just coming. The song may stick to an instrumental momentum for long periods. Then voices, strings, percussion, trumpets – this song now is crazy! (Just look at the name of this one: “They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!"). The names might sound a bit outrageous, I do not really like them, but the album is creative. In the Pitchfork review, it is written a very nice article, and I found myself waiting for the opportunity to listen to the album. The author says something true, the album is an “exercise of patience” if you want to dig in every moment. This next song has a very feeling-good and smooth feeling – “The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders".
I am almost done, four minutes left. I will stand up when finished, eat a cookie and drink some water. In the last sentence of her review, she says: “in both theory and execution, Illinois is huge, a staggering collection of impeccably arranged American tribute songs”.
I may agree. I recommend it with a cup of coffee and a raining weather – perhaps with a good book too.