Since the 2003 release of his third album MICHIGAN and 2004s SEVEN SWANS, Sufjan Stevens has been recognized as on of the most talented songwriter-performers in independent music. ILLINOIS, the follow-up to MICHIGAN in his "50 States" project, again demonstrates his ability to realize a music vision through his moving songs, musicianship (he plays 25 instrums on the album), production and arrangments. While some musical and literary influences are felt and heard, Stevens' total involvement in every phase of the project results in a thoroughly unique result. On his second meditation on an American state, a 22-track anthematic tone poem for Illinois, Stevens weaves variegated musical styles and instrumental textures into a tapestry of person famous, infamous and anonymous, and places iconic, obscure and abandoned. Love, loss, faith, the unique character of place, encounters with spiritual stength in unexpected places, incomprehensible horror and celebratory odes to the rise and fall of human works are among the themes Stevens visits in his ode to the Prairie State.
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