A memory of interviewing the late great songwriter Townes Van Zandt shortly before his death.
LA Review of Books | Jan 2011|
This is quite a treat…a live performance of Iron and Wine’s new album, plus a couple of oldies.
The Case for Cab Calloway
On August 23, unpredictable multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens released an EP entitled “All Delighted People,” a collection of arrangements that may even surpass his usual grandiose visions.
On the EP, his songs mesh soaring, symphonic arrangements with symbolic lyrics, evoking the deepest emotions without pretense. Swelling choirs and Stevens’ frail, emotional voice pair perfectly with the religious feeling and biblical allusion present in the extended tracks. Overall, the EP recalls the tone of his previous “Michigan” and “Illinois” projects more than the electronic sounds of “Enjoy Your Rabbit” or the multimedia concept “The BQE.”
The titular opening track, a song Stevens has performed on his recent live tour, runs more than 11 minutes long. However, the song reappears as a subtle nod to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” in the 8-minute “Classic Rock Version.” “Djohariah,” a 17-minute epic, is another guitar-washed distorted buildup layered over rising voices and pulsing brass. The songs find a common cohesion in this unifying sound, and the other five pieces continue this stylistic trend.
The EP, if it can be called that (it has a one hour run time), is a huge step back to song-driven work for Stevens, who conceived “The BQE” as an on-narrative art form that would change the direction of his focus. “All Delighted People” anticipates his upcoming LP, “The Age of Adz,” which, by the sound of the first single “I Walked,” takes a new synth-heavy direction entirely. Clearly, Sufjan Stevens is reenergized and unfolding a new chapter in his career. His fans should all be delighted amid this new surge of material.