illinoiseIllinoise by Sufjan Stevens

Detroit-born Sufjan Stevens is best known for his musicality (he plays a number of instruments, including more than 20 on this album), literate lyrics, and a willingness to tackle large topics. In this, the second of his albums to be dedicated exclusively to one state (the first, Greetings from Michigan, was released in 2003), Stevens surveys both the complexity and charm of the “Land of Lincoln.” With songs ranging from “Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois” to “A short reprise for Mary Todd, who went insane, but for very good reasons,” Stevens tackles the state with wit and a good historical understanding. Other songs, most notably his melodic analysis of serial killer “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” are much darker, but equally stunning.

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