Sufjan’s hiatus from the recording studio ends with a darkly themed return to his roots of haunting folk melodies. His approach is raw, not just with respect to the simplicity of its instrumentation, but also— and especially—within the concepts he expresses lyrically.
The album is rooted in the exploration of life and meaning as a result of his mother’s death. In disscusing the album Sufjan said, “the emotional ramifications and repercussions that occurred for months and months following her death. It nearly destroyed me, because I still couldn’t make sense out of it. In writing about it on this album, I was in pursuit of meaning, of justice, of reconciliation. It wasn’t very fun”.
The album is a piece based on closure, not only with regard to his mother, but also to parts of his childhood—dreams and comforts based in the past. The rawness of the album is perhaps best emphasised in the 3 songs that were recorded on his phone in a hotel room while in Oregon, the location of his best childhood memories associated with his mother.
We decided to look further into the lyrics, to find some of the places and ideas referenced, and to attempt to note meaning in the verse. We did this because we wanted to know the context to some of these lyrics, we hope you can find some of the meaning here too.
(Sufjan, if you’re reading this, come and drink coffee with us in Amsterdam, The Netherlands please)