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31. Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel The Illinoise! (Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition / Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream)

23/11/2009

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Sufjan Steven’s 70-minute song cycle about the state of Illinois was a massively ambitious undertaking and, as a complete album, stands as one of the most perfectly realised records of this decade. Of course, this site is about songs, not long-players, but the track Come On Feel The Illinoise!, from Stevens’ masterpiece, is like a microcosm of its parent LP – an album summed up in seven minutes. Lyrically it takes in the LP’s historical storytelling aspect as well as the personal dreams, musically it zips between orchestral chamber pop, chugging indie and almost goes jazz at one point. Across it all, though, the enterprise and enthusiasm on display here is quite infectious. That the track remains such a joy to hear on repeat, too, is something of a surprise – there are so many ideas crammed into Illinoise that Stevens’ arrangement (in the most literal sense of the word)  needs to be crystalline – and it is. Indeed, the impression of Stevens-the-musician here is more of a plate-spinner: he runs from part to part, constantly adjusting and re-spinning to make everything remain still yet in motion, and the result is a mellifluous composition that never feels forced or contrived, regardless of how many orchestral layers are set. And even aside from the technical brilliance, the track sings with an optimism and whimsy to match few others this decade – as the choir ask “are you writing from the heart?” in the closing stages, it’s just as easy to fall under the spell of its romance.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kat Arney permalink
    24/11/2009 10:45 pm

    I *love* the bit where it kicks in at about 3mins, with the distorted Rhodes-y sound. Always sends a shiver up my spine. Top choice, sir.

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