Spin - p.89
"[T]hese florid meditations on surety and doubt are earth-shaking if you're a believer..."
Spin - p.108
"ME FIRST slides gently rolling beats and Grandaddy-esque swoosh under irresistible choruses and slide guitar." - Grade: B+
Entertainment Weekly - 3/19/04, p.66
"His melodies are deceptively simple but utterly beguiling..." - Grade: A-
Uncut - 4/04, p.924 stars out of 5
- "All the requisite signifiers are in place: spare, brittle melodies; a hushed intimacy, where every squeak of fingertip on strings resonates."
Uncut - p.74Ranked #24
in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "[A] delirious baptism of mystical chamber-pop..."
Magnet - p.109
"The scrape of a guitar pick on wire is pristinely captured as poems of love, family and spirituality unfold....It's actually quite remarkable."
CMJ - 3/15/04, p.5
"The title track and closer 'The Transfiguration' sprawl beautifully, rounding out the record with chants so emotionally gripping it's unholy....Stevens has crafted a heavenly record."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1053 stars out of 5
- "These are blissfully executed missives of faith and love - both spiritual and corporeal - anchored by Stevens' spartan banjo-led arrangements and a voice that's tremulous yet brave."
Personnel: Sufjan Stevens (various instruments); Daniel Smith (vocals, bass); Elin Smith, Megan Smith (vocals); Andrew Smith, David Smith (drums).
Recorded at the New Jerusalem Rec Room, Clarksboro, New Jersey.
Personnel: Megan Smith (vocals); David Smith (drums).
Recording information: Daniel Smith's Home; New Jerusalem Rec Room, Clarksboro, NJ.
Multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens made a couple of records that slipped under the radar before his third, the astoundingly lush post-rock concept album GREETINGS FROM MICHIGAN, gained him critical attention and cult status. Seemingly bent on not repeating himself, Stevens scales down MICHIGAN's grandeur to a minimalist palette for SEVEN SWANS. Where the previous album was instrumentally comparable to Tortoise or Stereolab, SEVEN SWANS is practically lo-fi, based around simply strummed acoustic guitars, banjo, organ, and hushed vocals. It's more akin to laconic Americana troubadours like Will Oldham and Iron & Wine, though no amount of sonic slimming-down can disguise Stevens's knack for crafty arrangements and accessibly quirky songs. Like-minded spirit Daniel Smith of the Danielson Family produced, and other Family members provide accompaniment that's considerably more structured than their own free-wheeling recordings.