Sufjan has done it again! After two astonishing albums - Greetings from Michigan 2003, and Seven Swans, 2004, I was anxious to hear his latest release, Illinoise, the second installment in his series of album length tributes to American states.
<br><br> Illinois, true to its title, starts with a confusing collision of sounds. But by the third song in, Sufjan is revisiting old ideas, chord progressions and sounds recognizable from his previous work, although more peppy and upbeat than the past. Half way through, Sufjan Stevens charms again with his sincerely honest lyrics, a sweet whispery voice, and female backing vocals. <br><br> Each song has an eclectic orchestration, including horns, bells, piano, flute, clarinet, strings, banjo, guitar, organ/synths, and for the first time drums and electric guitar. Sufjan adds rock elements to this album along with his characteristic folk style, which is continuing to evolve. The whole album has such a beautiful flow that as a listener you hardly notice one song switching to the next. <br><br> Sufjan Stevens' music is truly a pearl with broad appeal. With Illinoise, he achieves sounds he has not yet explored making this a pleasantly eclectic mix of goodies. Highly recommended. A symphonic success! <br><br> Wyoming label Asthmatic Kitty are donating $5 to the local animal shelter for every copy of Illinoise sold.