The cliché about “less being more“ is not wrong in principle, it’s just being used too often. Here, for once, it couldn’t fit any better. Sufjan Stevens is a musician who doesn’t care for genre’s borders. His repertoire ranges from the smallest possible lineup (one man with a guitar) to the biggest one (an orchestra combined with a choir), and yet he has held his horses once again. In particular, when comparing it to his latest bombast »The Age of Adz«, »Carrie & Lowell« is an impressive example of radical reduction. In most cases, it doesn’t take more than guitar and vocals in order to process his mother’s death through numerous different approaches. It’s another cliché to talk of authentic inwardness, but this is exactly what these songs transport: They carry a great, wailing tone that doesn’t dissolve in self-pity. Instead, they have found a precise language for this kind of pain, the kind that grasps without overpowering. This doesn’t mean that »The Age of Adz« is a bad record compared to »Carrie & Lowell«, it’s even a great record, but these concentrated tracks of sorrow are so perfect and yet simple that this record must be praised even higher. As it is known (cliché number three), simplicity is a complex matter. We can only begin to imagine its complexity and virtuosity when it sounds as effortless as it does here.