Sufjan Stevens made a gorgeous and devastating work with Carrie & Lowell, meditating on his relationship with his mother over a collection of tracks that sounded additive to Elliott Smith's folk style. After releasing a live companion piece, he now also offers The Greatest Gift, with outtakes (read: leftover epics), remixes from friends and iPhone demos. An essential for all who adore this man.
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Oh lord, dear lord. If you are still drying your eyes from last years Carrie & Lowell record, then prepare to get them all wet with this companion record which comprises of outtakes from that record alongside alternate versions and remixes presented in a sort of mixtape format.
It's a hodge podge then but the perfect place to get more of that wonderful sound. Opener 'Wallowa Lake Monster' is almost perfect, just falling short when a few stray keys and additional noises ending in a big choralled section. Personally I like the stripped back Sufjan better but he must have his little electronic experiments and as this is a perfect time for him to mess about. 'Drawn To the Blood' credited here to Sufjan electrifies the original to devastating effect. He turns it into a brilliant piece of electronica ....waaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of anyone else who is doing this for a living. God this track is good.
I've just realised half way through the first side that this works. It recontexualises the Carrie and Lowell tracks into a more electronic setting but sitting alongside his i-phone demos and unheard tracks it all fits together in a way you might not expect. I sort of worried that the remixes would stomp over the originals but they don't. They just place them in a different space.
Don't be fooled by the understated nature of this release. If you like Sufjan you'll need it.
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