Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens' catalog of sound stretches far — from the electro-based The Age of Adz to the detail-laden Come On Feel the Illinoise. He's been creating something near orchestral with each album for more than a decade. Now, finally, Miami will get to experience the live melancholia of Stevens this Saturday at the Olympia Theater.
One of the last remaining indie-darling holdouts not to reach South Florida (or even Florida), Stevens has compiled a critically acclaimed, widely adored collection of songs that are equally heartbreaking as they are heartwarming. His oeuvre knows no restrictions, and few artists have the combined talent, honesty, and creativity that Stevens has injected into his albums. Every detailed lyric, every guitar hammer, every swelling of strings joined with triumphant horns creates something unique and special. His latest album, Carrie & Lowell (named in part for his deceased mother) nearly strips all the layers of a Sufjan Stevens product yet is still as rich in content and concept as anything he's made.
Thematically, it deals with the dark descent of existentialism, grounded in the realities that life and death bring. His voice is succinct — simple with his recognizable timbre that is warm and cold at once. The catharsis is palpable. "Fuck me, I'm falling apart," he exclaims in "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross." On the first track, "Death With Dignity," he leads with the line "Spirit of my silence, I can hear you."
It's interesting how that line recalls the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Sound of Silence." On Carrie & Lowell, he shares similarities with Paul Simon: the acoustic picking, the harmonies that coalesce as Stevens sings in falsetto, his points of reference and imagery, which at times feel similar but are completely original.
The anticipation surrounding Stevens' show is electric. For longtime fans, this most recent effort feels pure, stripped of trying to be too highbrow.
When the fall tour was announced, he mentioned the Sunshine State by simply exclaiming, "Florida!" We've been waiting to scream back "Sufjan!" for years and will finally get our chance.
Sufjan Stevens 8 p.m. Saturday, November 7, at the Olympia Theater, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami; 305-374-2444; olympiatheater.org. Tickets cost $39.50 to $49.50 plus fees via tickets.olympiatheater.org.
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