Reviews \

Sufjan Stevens, ‘All Delighted People’ (Asthmatic Kitty)

By: Spencer Kornhaber // August 23, 2010

History, social problems, and serial-killer clowns have inspired many of pillow-voiced singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ efforts to date, but now, five years after his last vocal record, he meditates on the notion-native to his own Christianity but not exclusive to it-that this earthly stuff is all just a distraction. The 11-minute title track (“…(Original Version)”) features Stevens desperately trying to zone out the world’s catastrophes as a fluttering, workshop arrangement repeatedly crumbles and reassembles, while the folk amble “Arnika” has Stevens sighing that he’s “tired of life”-and then apologizing. All Delighted People documents his struggle between fealty to the here-and-now and preparing for the hereafter; accordingly, it’s unwieldy, schizophrenic, and frequently devastating.