CD Seven Swans [Sufjan Stevens] (CD 1003434),
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Seven Swans [Sufjan Stevens]
1. All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands
2. Dress Looks Nice on You, The
3. In the Devil's Territory
4. To Be Alone With You
7. Size Too Small
8. We Won't Need Legs to Stand
9. Good Man Is Hard to Find, A
10. He Woke Me Up Again
11. Seven Swans
12. Transfiguration, The
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 13
Personnel: Sufjan Stevens (various instruments); Daniel Smith (vocals, bass); Elin Smith, Megan Smith (vocals); Andrew Smith, David Smith (drums).
Recorded at the New Jerusalem Rec Room, Clarksboro, New Jersey.
Personnel: Megan Smith (vocals); David Smith (drums).
Recording information: Daniel Smith's Home; New Jerusalem Rec Room, Clarksboro, NJ.
Multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens made a couple of records that slipped under the radar before his third, the astoundingly lush post-rock concept album GREETINGS FROM MICHIGAN, gained him critical attention and cult status. Seemingly bent on not repeating himself, Stevens scales down MICHIGAN's grandeur to a minimalist palette for SEVEN SWANS. Where the previous album was instrumentally comparable to Tortoise or Stereolab, SEVEN SWANS is practically lo-fi, based around simply strummed acoustic guitars, banjo, organ, and hushed vocals. It's more akin to laconic Americana troubadours like Will Oldham and Iron & Wine, though no amount of sonic slimming-down can disguise Stevens's knack for crafty arrangements and accessibly quirky songs. Like-minded spirit Daniel Smith of the Danielson Family produced, and other Family members provide accompaniment that's considerably more structured than their own free-wheeling recordings.
Spin (p.89) - "[T]hese florid meditations on surety and doubt are earth-shaking if you're a believer..."
Spin (p.108) - "ME FIRST slides gently rolling beats and Grandaddy-esque swoosh under irresistible choruses and slide guitar." - Grade: B+
Entertainment Weekly (3/19/04, p.66) - "His melodies are deceptively simple but utterly beguiling..." - Grade: A-
Uncut (4/04, p.92) - 4 stars out of 5 - "All the requisite signifiers are in place: spare, brittle melodies; a hushed intimacy, where every squeak of fingertip on strings resonates."
Uncut (p.74) - Ranked #24 in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "[A] delirious baptism of mystical chamber-pop..."
Magnet (p.109) - "The scrape of a guitar pick on wire is pristinely captured as poems of love, family and spirituality unfold....It's actually quite remarkable."
CMJ (3/15/04, p.5) - "The title track and closer 'The Transfiguration' sprawl beautifully, rounding out the record with chants so emotionally gripping it's unholy....Stevens has crafted a heavenly record."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.105) - 3 stars out of 5 - "These are blissfully executed missives of faith and love - both spiritual and corporeal - anchored by Stevens' spartan banjo-led arrangements and a voice that's tremulous yet brave."
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