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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sufjan on top form,
Oh my goodness.
I haven't written a review here for a very long time, but feel compelled to chuck my two pennies worth in. Bottom line? This is insanely wonderful. If we all felt The Age Of Adz was an exciting electronic venture, this is sheer unadultered, classic Sufjan. Parts will remind you of Illinoise, some of the early Christmas EPs, and then out of nowhere he throws in some twisted Age Of Adz electro-squelch. The compositions are, at times, sprawling and epic, gorgeously layered and textured, with some stunning choral parts and some of the finest, intimate harmonies he's put to disc.
There's really not a half-baked moment here - anyone familiar with his work will instantly fall in love with it, and for those only beginning their Stevens journey, considering this his most recent work, it's actually a fine place to start.
For a fiver you've no argument. Possibly the most beautiful and well considered record I've bought for a very long time. And I spend stupid amounts of money on here.....
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sufjan Stevens - Anyone up for Celestial balladeering self-indulgence?,
This review is from: All Delighted People EP (MP3 Download)
For those struggling with multifarious bleeps, electronica and 25 minute mini symphonies which comprise the new and amazing Sufjan Stevens "The Age of Adz" turning the clock back a couple of months might provide some solace. "All delighted people" was released in August 2010 and hit number 27 in the American charts which is remarkable for an EP which is actually a "front" for a full album. It clocks in at well over an hour and was probably intended as some sort of overture before the main opera that is "Adz". Yet as always when it comes to this wunderkid of modern American music from Detroit, Michigan appearances can be deceiving. This is by any standards a lovely piece of music with songs that have more traditional structures and possibly more melody than "Adz" (although not the sheer level of outright originality). In one sense it does have the same sort of feel as the eclecticism of "Avalanches" Stevens's album of outtakes and extras from the Illinois album and like that album there are some tracks which are slightly "wayward", but largely in a good way.
There is certainly no coherent vision to or concept to be found here. The two long versions of the title track present are acoustic and electric versions which together last well over twenty minutes and with a feel that suggest Stevens is developing "prog" leanings and lyrics which play with Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence". The last track "Djohariah" (dedicated to his sister) is described by Stevens as essentially "a 17-minute guitar jam-for-single-mothers" which on occasions rages like the return of Frank Zappa with a slightly distorted guitar and a choir singing a constant refrain of the subjects name.
While all these long bookend tracks are fascinating it is "the meat in the sandwich" that should draw your attention. The stellar highlight is "the Owl and the Tanager" (previously called "Barn owl, night killer") which is a heartbreaking Stevens melody combined with the sparest piano/harp and lyrical references to devil birds, death and diamonds in the rage. It's all very enigmatic, strange, child like and glacially beautiful and one of his best songs ever. There are other songs here that can be traced back to earlier work particularly the feast of banjo led melancholy on the wonderful "Seven Swans". Thus, "Arnika", "Heirloom" and the truly brilliant "From the mouth of Gabriel" will have the ring of familiarity to fans of the wintry acoustic songs of Stevens's earlier work. Finally "Enchanting ghost" is a jazzy acoustic lament which could have happily appeared on one of his "Two state" albums.
NME has described "All Delighted people" as painfully celestial balladeering self-indulgence and it is true that in parts its lacks focus and direction (it would be a shock if it was coherent). Similarly the absence of "Majesty Snowbird" a song he has performed live which redefines the word "epic" is to be regretted. But on considered judgement let us tell the muso's at NME to politely take a hike since "All delighted people" will be welcomed by all Asthmatic Kitty Aficionados as yet another intriguing addition to the canon of the most original musician currently picking up a guitar, playing a piano or plucking a banjo on terra firma.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thousand lights abounded on our hall,
Sufjan Stevens is one of those few artists who can truly stun you with just how passionate and talented he is. Need an example? Take the shimmering, enchantingly lovely "All Delighted People EP," which is actually longer than many full-length albums -- colorful folk pop, warbly vocals, and a strong religious slant.
"Tomorrow you'll see it through/The clouded out disguises put you in the room," Stevens sings mournfully in "All Delighted People (original)," which drifts between soft, bittersweet folk-rock and an epic song of soaring angelic choirs and sweeping strings.
As if the music wasn't good enough, Stevens sings of overcoming inner fear, doubt and hypocrisy ("I tried my best I tried in vain/Oh! But the world is a mess! Oh! But the world is a mess!"). There's also a brass-soaked "classic-rock" version of the title track, which sounds far more cheerful despite having the same lyrics.
I think my brain would explode if the entire album was like that, so fortunately the next songs are less intense. Instead, Stevens relies on soft piano-led melodies, earthy guitar folk, twinkly soaring little ballads (from the POV of God?), and murky experimental ballads. And it ends with "Djohariah," a seventeen-minute rock epic of squiggling synth, trumpets and melancholy guitar.
"All Delighted People" is an almost perfect example of what Sufjan Stevens can do. Without losing sight of his classic sound (the classic rock "All Delighted People" made me flash back to his first album), Stevens manages to expand his sound to include some new, spellbinding musical journeys. The first song is a trip all on its own!
In fact, there's only one song that didn't blow me away: "The Owl and the Tanager," which isn't bad so much as kind of... musically slow.
His music centers mostly on folk-rock rhythms, with lots of acoustic guitar and piano. But many of the melodies are dressed up with colorful sonic garlands -- plucked harp, violins, flittering/squiggling synth, and blasts of brass. And there are those crystalline vocals that soar up in "All Delighted People (original)" and "From The Mouth of Gabriel," as if he's getting some angelic backing.
Speaking of which, Stevens inserts gentle Christian undercurrents into a few of the songs -- not the "rah rah Jesus is awesome!" type, but haunting explorations of sorrow, fear and humanity. The rest of the EP is about love -- rejected love, shattered love , lost love ("And if it grieves you to stay here, just go... For I have no spell on you, it's all a ghost"), and love for someone who has been betrayed.
The "All Delighted People EP" is not only longer than most full-length albums, but it's a layered, exquisite little collection of songs that deserves repeated listens. All delighted people, raise your hands.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can you spot Di Caprio on the cover?,
This is such a refreshing listen after the Age of Adz. And even though I loved that album, it's great to hear Sufjan playing guitar again.
This is such a beautiful little album, from the first track, All Delighted People with it's Sound of Silence tinged lyrics and Melodies to the ten minute mantra that closes the album Djohariah. Just like Age... the lyrics are personal and heart felt and the melodies stick in your head. For £5 you get an hour of great music, so if you're a fan or have never heard of him, buy it, you're in for a treat. It's also great fun looking at the delighted people that scatter the album cover. The should have called the album: Where's Sufjan.
5.0 out of 5 stars Uberpsychedelia,
There seems to be a degree of consensus amongst critics that Illinois is Sufjan Stevens's claim to greatness, but Stevens himself seems to feel that he has more to give. 2010 saw the release of Sufjan's mighty "plugged" album, The Age of Adz, and, subsequently, this: a slice of wizardry that confirms his claim to be just about the most inventive songwriter working today.
"All Delighted People" itself, with its reworking of the lyrics to Paul Simon's "Sound of Silence", is a song on an epic scale: although a "mere" 12 minutes its use of choir and strings means that it could punch its weight against the substantially longer "Impossible Soul" from The Age of Adz. The song is also presented here in a slightly shorter "Classic Rock Version" which opens with Sufjan's trademark banjo-and-guitar-accompaniment but soon adds a range of additional touches, including slide guitar, brass and an electric guitar solo; it's a complete rearrangement rather than a remix, although admittedly most listeners will choose one approach or other as their favourite.
The final song on the album, "Djohariah", is also at 17 minutes its longest. The long guitar soloes don't really distract here from the maddeningly repetitive four-bar chord structure that is repeated throughout the song's first 11 minutes: another example of Sufjan's debt to Minimalism, although the arrangements distract slightly from this. When we finally get Sufjan singing the song itself, over the same chords, things brighten somewhat, but for once I'm left feeling that a shorter and more focused version of this song would have worked better.
The other songs on the album are all "proper" songs rather than quasi-symphonic behemoths. Those waiting for another ballad from Sufjan as striking as "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." need to hear "The Owl and the Tanager", a beautiful song with a spare, lo-fi piano arrangement and a lovely backing vocal. "From The Mouth Of Gabriel" is more elaborate, with woodwind used prominently at the end. "Arnika", which at first sounds like a sweet ballad, is just one of several songs here that benefit immensely from an intriguing lyric.
This is not Sufjan's strongest set of songs (for me, that would be Seven Swans) but it comes close and it may well be his strongest set of arrangements: a bewildering and enchanting set of sounds that, for sheer inventiveness, can stand comparison with the highpoints of George Martin or Brian Wilson.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmmmmm,
Was undecided between a 3 and a 4 but went for 4 as it might be a grower and it's worth a fiver of anyone's money.
It's hard to be objective about artists you admire. I was so desperate to love Age of Adz, especially after the long wait. Of course he has every right to experiment and to push back the artistic boundaries, but it left me cold. I was feeling a bit low and then, All Delighted People came along. It's very different. Not a return to Illinois/ Michigan/ Seven Swans form in my humble opinion - his vocals still sound a little troubled and you get the odd Age of Adz techno spike - but more of the joyous layering of trumpets, chants, guitars, banjos etc that we're used to.
I hope, like Illinois and Avalanche (the outtakes album), that the appearance of this EP so soon after Adz is an indication that his creative juices are flowing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-own Sufjan,
An album that shows a new experimental side to Sufjan that's a great half-way point between Illinois and The Age of Adz.
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime,
And to think this was nearly lost to the streaming.download generation - can't be doing with all that mp3 inferior quality, and why would you when records are as good as this is!!! And it's one hell of an ep. Proper artist, now gets proper release - watch out also for a reissue of "A sun came" - Sufjan is a beacon of independent light in a sea of "industry" mediocrity. Go buy!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime,
I'm a fairly recent convert to Sufjan and am working my way through the standard route of Seven Swans, Illinoise. All great stuff but this is a little gem - there isn't a weak track on here, even the 17 minutes of Djohariah really gets to you. Just buy it.
5.0 out of 5 stars incredible,
anybody who would consider giving less than five stars has broken ears, this is one of the best albums i ever heard, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!!
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