Sufjan Stevens Michigan

[Asthmatic Kitty; 2003]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: folk-rock, folk-pop
Others: The Danielson Famile, Stereolab, Badly Drawn Boy, Califone

Whether it means hopping on a plane and traveling across the entire globe or just simply going to a nearby town for a warm Sunday afternoon, I absolutely love to travel. It has this inherent sense of abandonment from the monotony of everyday life, a time to sporadically drop whatever you are doing and indulge in a journey of discovery. The third full-length album by Sufjan Stevens, aptly titled Michigan, is a perfect homage to the open road, a road that leads to the beauty and splendor that was somehow unimaginable when you consider its destination.

Many will generalize the state of Michigan by its highly-hyped and overly unfriendly city, Detroit. I myself have never even considered stepping anywhere close to the city, much less the state. But when I listened to Sufjan’s sonic interpretation of the state of Michigan, I couldn’t help feel ashamed at my preconceived notions. This complex, inventive record goes well beyond the boundaries of typical rock. The use of banjos, organs, trumpets, and piano breathe beauty and magnificence, complimenting Sufjan Stevens’ breathy, supple vocals. With the addition of faint female backing vocals on amazing tracks like “Say Yes! To Michigan!”, the record takes you on a gorgeous ride, compelling you to dream of a place where everything is of luscious, friendly deceleration. Tracks like “All Good Naysayers Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace” pristinely exemplify the balladry and successful undertone of the entire record.

Sufjan Steven’s Michigan is a truly effective paradox to the perception of today’s weary world. Delivered with elegance and class, Michigan takes you just where it intended to from the very beginning. And as the album draws to a close, you'll realize that it never even required leaving the comfort of your own home. Twelve bucks to go to Michigan? Sounds good to me.

1. Flint (For The Unemployed And Underpaid)
2. All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!
3. For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti
4. Say Yes! To Michigan!
5. The Upper Peninsula
6. Tahquamenon Falls
7. Holland
8. Oh Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)
9. Romulus
10. Alanson, Crooked River
11. Sleeping Bear, Sault Saint Marie
12. They Also Mourn Who Do Not Wear Black (For The Homeless In Muskegon)
13. Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)
14. Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou

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