Javelin pairs musical sweep with emotional breadth. At times, it has the feel of a big team album production — but it is decidedly not: almost every sound here is the result of Stevens at home, building by himself what sometimes feels like a testament to ‘70s Los Angeles studio opulence. The contributions come from a close circle of friends – adrienne maree brown, Hannah Cohen, Pauline Delassus, Megan Lui and Nedelle Torrisi – who provide harmonies on many songs, and Bryce Dessner, who plays acoustic and electric guitar on “Shit Talk.” Of course, Neil Young wrote the tender and mystic album closer, “There’s A World.”
Where The Ascension, lauded by The New York Times as “a cry of despair and prayer for redemption,” used ornate but urgent electronics to square up to its moment, Javelin begins like a self-portrait, detailed yet plain. This is Stevens at his most intimate, calling back to Seven Swans or Carrie & Lowell and then calling you close to share in its internal reckoning.
“So You Are Tired” begins with a gently introduced piano before intricate layers of guitar and percussion build, creating a lush, melancholic atmosphere. “So you are tired of us // So rest your head,” Stevens sings in his signature disarming voice, as if the very scenes of hurt and hope it is about to share have only galvanized it through the decades.
Javelin is accompanied by a 48-page book of art and essays all created by Stevens, including a series of meticulous collages, cut-up catalog fantasies, puff-paint word clouds, and iterative color fields. The 10 short essays — alternatively funny, tragic, poignant, obtuse, and specific — offer little glimpses into loves and losses that have shaped him, and, in turn, these songs.
STAFF COMMENTSAndy says: Delicate, fragile yet somehow forthright, this new collection of perfect songs sees Sufjan Stevens return to the summits previously inhabited by 2003’s ‘Michigan’, 2005’s ‘Illinois’ and 2015’s ‘Carrie and Lowell’. Basically, this new record is raw, soul searching, heart yearning, pain, truth, and beauty poured onto tape. There’s also plenty of love around, both personal and universal, so there’s something here for everyone, anyone who has a heart! If you’re familiar with Sufjan’s oeuvre, you’ll know that he’s a pure, total artist who determinedly follows his muse. This often results in unusual, experimental, often heavily electronic records. I think I speak for most people when I say, his melancholy acoustic albums are the ones we love the most. Personal highlights for me are “Will Anyone Ever Love Me?” and “So You Are Tired”. The latter is a breakup song to top all break up songs. It's exquisitely beautiful.
1. Goodnight Evergreen
2. A Running Start
3. Will Anybody Ever Love Me?
4. Everything That Rises
5. Genuflecting Ghost
6. My Red Little Fox
7. So You Are Tired
8. Javelin (To Have And To Hold)
10. There’s A World