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Sufjan Stevens 

Seven Swans

Wednesday, Jul 28 2004
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While far more stripped down than the multitimbre grandeur of Sufjan Stevens' last full-length, Greetings From Michigan, Seven Swans is just as ambitious. Stevens starts his indie-folk compositions with a sparse banjo or acoustic guitar and whispered fictions about dragons or hurricanes, but each song blooms slowly, often needing nothing more than a vocal harmony, a distant shaker, or a droning organ to help it toward climax. Stevens is in a class of his own. You can hear in his voice the solitude of a guy who skipped the party to focus instead on writing better melodies and learning to be poetic. But there's something extra in that voice besides the polish gleaned from hard work, a prudence that tells us he's probably a whiz at physics, too -- whatever it is, it's responsible for his consistent infectiousness.

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Abigail Clouseau

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