In a recent interview, Sufjan Stevens confessed vocal inadequacies: his range is limited; his falsetto is strained; he lacks Patti Smith’s attitude and Willie Nelson’s cliches. However, narrative, he says, saves the music from these weaknesses.
He sells himself short, but Stevens has a point. Like the charcoal drawings decorating his fourth CD, “Seven Swans,” his verbal sketches outline stories, characters and emotions that listeners color in with their own experiences. This understated style has some critics hoping he will replace the late Elliot Smith in the school of intimate indie-folk, but sincerity and a dreamy brand of homegrown Christianity (compared with Smith’s lack of both) put Stevens in an entirely different classroom.
Read the full review at The Japan Times Online.