Sure, in the past five years he’s released his album of b-sides “The Avalanche,” his holiday collection “Songs for Christmas” and his instrumental symphony “The BQE,” but ultimately these albums have just teased his listeners into wanting something more substantial.
Thus, Sufjan Stevens followers were ecstatic when he finally announced that he would release a new album, “The Age of Adz,” on Oct. 12. But that wasn’t all that Stevens had up his sleeve. Along with the announcement came the surprise release of a new EP entitled “All Delighted People,” an appropriate name for the album, considering how it will make Sufjan enthusiasts feel.
To call “All Delighted People” an EP just doesn’t do it justice. At 59 minutes in length, the EP is busting at the seams with new sounds from the folk singer. Included are two different versions of the titular song “All Delighted People,” the “original” version and the “classic rock” recreation, which both run for more than eight minutes. And that’s nothing compared to the epic, 17-minute-long “Djohariah,” complete with wailing guitars and a full choir.
As usual, Stevens taps into an enormous abundance of instruments and sounds to create something that is truly unique. Horns, strings and incredibly complex vocal harmonies are only some of the things that Stevens uses throughout “All Delighted People.” Even upon listening to the first minute of the album, the listener is almost overwhelmed with the sheer amount of musical depth that Stevens composes.
However, the album also has its more stripped-down, yet equally effective moments. “Heirloom” is a quiet, reflective song consisting of only a few acoustic guitars and Stevens’ delicate, idiosyncratic voice.
With the wide mixture of sounds, the music defies any sort of preconceived genre. Stevens experiments with folk, blues, rock and even a bit of electronica through the eight tracks. Each song brings a new sound to it, from the melancholy softness of “Enchanting Ghost” to the more upbeat funk of “All Delighted People (Classic Rock Version).”
No matter what it can be categorized as, the beauty of “All Delighted People” can’t be denied. Whether it’s the gracefully melodic piano parts on “Arnika” and “The Owl and the Tanager” or the floating interplay of flutes in “From the Mouth of Gabriel,” Stevens writes unbelievably gorgeous music that leaves the listener with chills.
Obviously the album isn’t perfect. Although most listeners will appreciate the length of the album, it does have a tendency to drag at points, especially in the first two tracks. Stevens’ voice is brilliant as usual, but there are some moments where his voice is verging on whiney. But these details are pretty negligible in comparison to the overall effect that the EP has.
All Delighted People is a great disk to hold people over until Oct. 12 rolls around. It may not be the next “Illinois,” but for Sufjan Stevens fans, the EP can simply be described in one word—delightful.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Matt Glassett at Matthew.firstname.lastname@example.org.