Sufjan Stevens

Greetings from Michigan—the Great Lake State

This is an election year, and the suits are hot to talk about the economy. Sufjan Stevens’ is hot for economics too, but on the brilliant new Greetings From Michigan… he makes economics personal, reminding the candidates that real people and real towns are being crushed under the weight of the sagging timbers of our economy. The amazing part is how Stevens accomplishes this. In an extended love poem to his home state, song titles like “Say Yes! To M!ch!gan!” hint at the excitement he feels about the future, while the slow, expansive music feels like he knows that the best years have already passed. Many kids these days are making pretty, orchestrated albums that recall the Beach Boys, Brian Eno and late-era Ellington, and Michigan is in this vein. But Stevens takes care to write the songs first and add the orchestrations later; his work is both more beautiful and more meaningful for it.