Sufjan Stevens left behind the folk game a long time ago, declaring his plan to write fifty records for fifty states a mere joke -- a sentiment that failed to wash away the beauty of the ornately composed Michigan and the pantomimic Illinoise. In the years since, he's been writing song cycles dedicated to the solar system, conducting orchestras in tributes to American highways, making fun of people on his blog and releasing records that betray deep existential crises -- All Delighted People and the synth-mad Age of Adz. He returns now with Carrie & Lowell, a record which promises a retracing of footsteps, back to the days when Stevens was about acoustic guitars, banjos and soft sadness. It's dedicated to his mum and step-dad. Argh. Crying.