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Carrie & Lowell is the seventh studio album by American musician Sufjan Stevens, released through Asthmatic Kitty on March 31, 2015.[4] Unlike Stevens's previous studio album, the electronic The Age of Adz, Carrie & Lowell is sparsely instrumental and marks a return to the performer's indie folk roots.[1] The album was given a one-week preview on NPR.[5]

Carrie & Lowell
A weathered photograph of a man and woman with the album title and artist written on the image in white
Studio album by Sufjan Stevens
Released March 31, 2015 (2015-03-31)
Recorded Mid-2014
Studio
Genre
Length 43:35
Label Asthmatic Kitty
Producer Thomas Bartlett
Sufjan Stevens chronology
Silver & Gold
(2012)Silver & Gold2012
Carrie & Lowell
(2015)
Singles from Carrie & Lowell
  1. "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross"
    Released: February 16, 2015
  2. "Should Have Known Better"
    Released: March 11, 2015
  3. "Carrie & Lowell"
    Released: March 17, 2015

The album was released to high critical acclaim, with many critics calling it Stevens' best.[6] Carrie & Lowell was widely deemed one of the best albums of 2015.

The album title comes from Stevens' personal life, taking the names from his mother Carrie and her second husband Lowell Brams.

Contents

RecordingEdit

The songs on the album were recorded in 2014 at Stevens' office in Dumbo, Brooklyn and Pat Dillett's studio in Midtown Manhattan. Some of the songs were also recorded in Oregon, at Portland's Flora Recording & Playback and on an iPhone in a Klamath Falls hotel room. A few songs were also tracked in Oklahoma, at Norman's Blackwatch Studios, and in Wisconsin, at Eau Claire's April Base Studios.[1][7][8] The songs were inspired by the 2012 death of his mother, Carrie, and the family trips they took to Oregon in Stevens' childhood.[9] Stevens' mother, who suffered from depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse, abandoned him when he was a year old. According to Stevens, recording the album helped him come to terms with her death and provide closure.[10] The album title also references his stepfather, Lowell, who helped co-found Stevens' record company Asthmatic Kitty.[1]

The album was produced by Thomas Bartlett, known as Doveman, a musician and friend of Stevens who had recently lost a brother to cancer. On Bartlett's production part, Stevens said, "Thomas took all these sketches and made sense of it all. He called me out on my bullshit. He said: 'These are your songs. This is your record.' He was ruthless."[11] In the same interview, on the emotions in the album's recording process, Stevens said:

Commercial performanceEdit

Carrie & Lowell debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 with 53,000 equivalent album units; it sold 51,000 copies in its first week,[12] with the remainder of its unit count reflecting the album's streaming activity and track sales.[13] The album also debuted at number 10 on the Canadian Albums Chart with sales of 4,400.[14] As of July 2015, Carrie & Lowell has sold 105,000 copies in the United States,[15] with 44,900 of its total having been sold in the vinyl configuration.[16]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 90/100[17]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic      [18]
The A.V. Club A[19]
The Daily Telegraph      [20]
Entertainment Weekly A−[21]
The Guardian      [22]
The Independent      [23]
NME 9/10[24]
Pitchfork Media 9.3/10[25]
Rolling Stone      [26]
Spin 8/10[2]

Carrie & Lowell received critical acclaim upon its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from music critics, the album has received an average score of 90, indicating "universal acclaim", based on 40 reviews.[17] Andrew Hannah of The 405 proclaimed that "Carrie & Lowell is just the latest in a long line of unimpeachable achievements." [27] In his review for Pitchfork Media, writer Brandon Stosuy wrote, "Sufjan Stevens' new album, Carrie & Lowell, is his best."[28] Stephen Carlick of Exclaim! called the record "a quietly triumphant return for Stevens, announced not by fireworks but by a series of small, elegant moments that reach for the heart."[29] UK retailer HMV named it the best album of 2015.

AccoladesEdit

Publication Accolade Year Rank
The A.V. Club The 15 Best Albums of 2015 2015
The Guardian The 50 Best Albums of 2015 2015
2
Musica Neto The 100 Best Albums of 2015 2015
NME NME'S Albums of the Year 2015 2015
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2015 2015
Readers' Top 50 Albums 2015
Rough Trade Albums of the Year 2015 2015
Stereogum The 50 Best Albums of 2015 2015
OOR Album of the Year 2015

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Sufjan Stevens.

No. Title Length
1. "Death with Dignity" 3:59
2. "Should Have Known Better" 5:07
3. "All of Me Wants All of You" 3:41
4. "Drawn to the Blood" 3:18
5. "Eugene" 2:26
6. "Fourth of July" 4:39
7. "The Only Thing" 4:44
8. "Carrie & Lowell" 3:14
9. "John My Beloved" 5:04
10. "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross" 2:40
11. "Blue Bucket of Gold" 4:43
Total length: 43:35

ChartsEdit

Chart (2015) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[38] 11
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[39] 68
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[40] 10
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[41] 33
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[42] 6
French Albums (SNEP)[43] 50
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[44] 51
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[45] 27
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[46] 9
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[47] 30
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[48] 27
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[49] 29
UK Albums (OCC)[50] 6
US Billboard 200[51] 10

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Dombal, Ryan (February 16, 2015). "True Myth: A Conversation with Sufjan Stevens". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Grebey, James (April 1, 2015). "Review: Sufjan Stevens Sheds the Frills on the Deeply Personal 'Carrie & Lowell'". Spin. Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell". cokemachineglow.com. Retrieved 6 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Modell, Josh (January 12, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens Announces New Album, out March 31". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ Stevens, Sufjan (March 22, 2015). "First Listen: Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell". NPR. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  6. ^ Horn, Adam. "Sufjan Stevens Just Proved He's So Much More Than a Musician". Mic (media company). Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  7. ^ Carrie & Lowell on Discogs
  8. ^ http://www.oregonlive.com/music/index.ssf/2015/06/sufjan_stevens_new_record_carr.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Stevens, Sufjan Death with dignity: how music eases grief's deep ache The Guardian. September 6, 2015
  10. ^ "Interviews: True Myth: A Conversation With Sufjan Stevens". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  11. ^ Eggers, Dave (2015-04-26). "Sufjan Stevens talks to Dave Eggers: ‘I was recording songs as a means of grieving’". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-09. 
  12. ^ White, Emily (April 10, 2015). "Death Cab For Cutie Parks at No. 1 on Top Rock Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  13. ^ Caulfield, Keith (April 8, 2015). "Wale Rules With Second No. 1 Album, 'Furious 7' Soundtrack Drives to No. 2". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  14. ^ Cross, Alan (April 9, 2015). "Weekly Music Sales Report and Analysis: 08 April 2015". Retrieved April 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ Lynch, Joe (July 2, 2015). "Taylor Swift's '1989' Tops 2015 Vinyl Sales; See the Other 9 Best Sellers So Far". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  16. ^ McIntyre, Hugh (January 8, 2016). "Vinyl Sales Surged 30 Percent In 2015, Led By Adele And Taylor Swift". Forbes. Retrieved November 8, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b "Reviews for Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens". Metacritic. Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  18. ^ Deming, Mark. "Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens". AllMusic. Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  19. ^ Modell, Josh (March 31, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens quietly wrestles with death on the near-perfect Carrie & Lowell". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  20. ^ Brown, Helen (March 28, 2015). "CD reviews: Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens, review: 'hushed heartbreak'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  21. ^ Biedenharn, Isabella (April 3, 2015). "Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 
  22. ^ Hann, Michael (March 26, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell review – a delight in every way, and an album of the year". The Guardian. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  23. ^ Gill, Andy (March 27, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell – album review: Stirring memories from the troubled troubadour". The Independent. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  24. ^ Beaumont, Mark (March 27, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens – 'Carrie & Lowell'". NME. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  25. ^ Stosuy, Brandon (March 30, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  26. ^ Mapes, Jillian (March 31, 2015). "Carrie & Lowell". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  27. ^ Hannah, Andrew (March 16, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". The 405. Retrieved April 16, 2015. 
  28. ^ Stosuy, Brandon (March 30, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  29. ^ Carlick, Stephen (March 27, 2015). "Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Exclaim!. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  30. ^ "The 15 Best Albums Of 2015". The A.V. Club. The Onion. December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 
  31. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of 2015". Musicaneto. December 25, 2015. Retrieved December 25, 2015. 
  32. ^ "NME'S Albums of the Year 2015". NME. Time Inc. UK. Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  33. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2015". Pitchfork. December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Readers' Poll Results 2015". Pitchfork. January 5, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Albums of the Year 2015". roughtrade.com. 2015-11-25. Archived from the original on 2015-12-05. Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  36. ^ "The 50 Best Albums Of 2015". Stereogum. SpinMedia. 2015-12-01. Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  37. ^ "ALBUM VAN HET JAAR: SUFJAN STEVENS!". OOR. 2015-11-27. Retrieved 2015-12-28. 
  38. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  39. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  40. ^ "Ultratop.be – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  41. ^ "Ultratop.be – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  42. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  43. ^ "Lescharts.com – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  44. ^ "Officialcharts.de – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  45. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  46. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  47. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  48. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  49. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  50. ^ "Sufjan Stevens | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  51. ^ "Sufjan Stevens – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Sufjan Stevens. Retrieved April 9, 2015.