Sufjan Stevens Shares “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” from new LP

I’m always a little impressed when the internet so rapidly comments upon a song that has just been released. Of course, many of us know what we like when we hear it, but I like sitting with a song for a few minutes before deciding my exact thoughts. This hedging aside, I’m immediately drawn to the first track released from Sufjan Stevens’ impending new LP Carrie & Lowell, out the last day of March on Stevens’ own Asthmatic Kitty label. Although Sufjan finds himself back in familiar terrain with softly, beautifully crooned vocals and elegant guitar. However, it has been a while since we’ve heard from this particular Stevens, as he’s been producing other styles of music of late.

Beyond the return of these aural aesthetics, I’m drawn to Stevens’ complex treatment of Christian ideas. The title directly alludes to and challenges the concept that belief in a constant, all-loving, all powerful, and righteous higher power provides truth and comfort. Instead, Stevens sees the burden of faith and of love. In lyrics that mention substance abuse and hint at human affection, Stevens universalizes the difficulty of carrying a burden–any burden. Bearing a cross may hold intrinsic rewards, but Stevens has no illusions — there’s no shade to be found in its shadow. Listen for yourself below.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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