There are songwriters and then there are songmakers — artists whose craft extends beyond lyric and melody. As the sprawling Illinoise shows, Sufjan Stevens is a songmaker of the highest order. Intricately orchestrated and handed forth with a gilded touch, songs like "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." and "Jacksonville" jostle through different parts and movements with hardly a note out of place. Whether he's picking a banjo or guiding a horn section that matches indie-rock glee with actual chops, Stevens knows exactly what he wants to hear before he hears it. Then he listens; his vocal delivery, so tender and unassuming, leaves the impression that he's just as curious about his creations as an unwitting listener left to puzzle over a concept album about the most Midwestern state in the union. The Illinois theme neatly links songs about everything from Abraham Lincoln to UFOs, but it's better to think of it as merely one element of an album guided by magic and wonder.
By Ben Fong-Torres on 06.30.09 in Icons
Born in Brooklyn in 1941 and raised in Los Angeles, Harry Edward Nelson III became Nilsson in the mid '60s, when he began writing and performing - singing and playing piano and guitar. He recorded for RCA, an American...
By Mary Kinney on 02.06.15 in Features
For all of NYC's history of folk music, a giant metropolitan city with no recent rural history to speak of is an odd place for a comeback to take place.
By Marc Hogan on 01.12.15 in News
The album-release forecast for 2015 keeps getting clearer. On the major-label front, the big announcement today was Death Cab for Cutie's upcoming album Kintsugi, which is technically their first without departed guitari...
By Marc Hogan on 11.07.14 in News
Yellow Ostrich are about to come full circle. The Brooklyn band (and alum of our sister site's eMusic Selects program) announced today it will play its last show on December 8 at Brooklyn's Glasslands Gallery. The Alex S...