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Sufjan Stevens scales dusty prairies, steel factories, and two hundred years of history to produce his newest album "Illinois" on Rough Trade. Invoking the muse of poet Carl Sandburg (and the musical flourishes of Rodgers and Hammerstein), "Illinois" ushers in trumpets on parade, string quartets, female choruses and ambient piano scales arranged around Stevens' emerging falsetto. Whereas 2003s "Michigan" (the inaugural album of 'The 50 States' project) was rooted in memory, and 2004s "Seven Swans" was rooted in the spirit, "Illinois" is rooted in 'the world, in society, invention, civilisation, in disease, in death, in education, in business', says Stevens. And unlike "Seven Swans", Stevens surmounted the heights of "Illinois" solo, employing guest musicians but recording, engineering, and producing the album entirely on his own.
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