Sufjan Stevens returns to the scene when everyone needs him the most. After releasing his heart-aching, emotional body of work Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan has catered as the ultimate tearjerker curator. The 2015 album was a tribute to his late mother and the album explored his childhood, abandonment, depression, loneliness, and the aftermath of it all.
Five years later, Sufjan has decided to return amidst a global pandemic and a troubling reality. The singer-songwriter recently announced his new album The Ascension will be released on September 25 – a project that was years in the making.
Now, Sufjan Stevens has finally arrived back at the heat of the moment with a haunting number that addresses a crumbling nation. “America”, the lead single off of Stevens forthcoming album is a 12-minute vision into an upcoming apocalypse. Sufjan sings “is it love you’re after?” as he warms up the tone with a genuine outlook into a state of wander. With a slew of biblical references and allusions, he compares romanticism to the landscape of the nation.
Stevens has been outspoken with his thoughts on the Trump-era America, as he uses his Tumblr to get his messages across – in 2017 he wrote “the truest of Americans have either been destroyed by the white immigrant, incarcerated isolated, held captive, or stolen and enslaved”. Such statements are as relevant as they were when he referenced them but this time, he’s uses a sense of political ideology in his music.
The 12-minute manifesto travels through the unknown of a sudden wave of confusion, worry, and fear. Stevens creates a dynamic that is built upon a sense of silence that exaggerates his emotions that’re overwhelmingly present. With a slow build, the atmosphere is overshadowed with a melancholic somber face of fears. At times it’s a way to confront his emotions, other times it’s his way to return back to such emotions.
In the end, “America” is just a glimpse of hopes and dreams that have become shattered and broken. Hinting romance, Sufjan Stevens is conflicted due in part of what his homeland has psychologically did to him. The American Dream as Stevens sees it, is just trying to make it out alive.