Feel the Illinoise with Sufjan Stevens


Photo by REVOLT on Unsplash

Ella Debity, Staff Writer

Sufjan Stevens is an indie folk artist who has been in the music industry for years. He has many albums that have been released since his first one, “Stalker,” in 1998. He was born in Detroit and is a multi-instrumentalist indie singer-songwriter. One of his albums in particular—named “Come On, Feel The Illinoise,” or “Illinois” for short—was released on July 4th, 2005. Sufjan produced it himself.

“Illinois” has 22 songs on the album. Although some of these are very short—between twenty to forty seconds long—it still has a lot to offer. Almost all the songs are slow paced and have a very good, original beat that is calming when you may feel stressed out. It has enough upbeat songs in for a good mix though. This album reminded me of a more slowed down version of Mumford and Sons in a way but with Sufjan still managing to show through as his own independent artist and get across his own style.

There were a lot of songs that had the same slowed down vibe in them like “Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland Illinois,” “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”, and “Casimir Pulaski Day.” These songs were all slower paced songs that give off close to the same energy listening to them. They would all be songs that I can imagine someone thinking about their life to. Most of them were good, but they had a slower rhythm, so if you don’t like slower songs these probably aren’t for you. In the song, “John Wayne Gacy Jr.”, the music is mostly piano based and for the most part the lyrics seemed to match the music. The slower paced rhythm matches the lyrics that focus on the life of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

There are more middle-paced songs on the album as well. Some of them are more upbeat than others, but they all fell in the middle ground of not being slow or fast enough to give off another feeling when listening to them. Songs like “Jacksonville” and “A short reprise for Mary Todd, who went insane, but for very good reasons” were more a type of song that you may want to study to because they aren’t too slow to keep you unmotivated, but they aren’t so fast that you get really excited and want to go do something else. They for the most part were all genuinely good songs, though not as much of my style. I’m more into upbeat music with quicker beats. The songs in this category like “Jacksonville” had a lot of different instrumental sounds, including some piano and string instruments. I also think the medium pace is fitting for the lyrics.

Now the faster songs on this album, which were my personal favorite, were songs that I would normally listen to to get ready in the morning and to wake up with to get my day started. “Come on! Feel the Illinoise!..” and “Chicago” were all upbeat, catchy songs that you’ve probably seen come up on your playlist at some point or maybe heard in the background at a restaurant. They all featured a more uplifting vibe and would make you feel more energized compared to the other songs. “Chicago” like a lot of the more upbeat songs in this album uses a lot of keyboard beats to let the light-heartedness of the song shine through. The lyrics differ a lot from the beat by talking about how “all things grow” and crying in parking lots. It’s still good but to really understand this song you have to listen closely to understand the meaning.

There is one other track on this album that doesn’t fit any of these categories. This is because it is only six seconds long! It isn’t really a song in my opinion because it only consists of a “woo-hoo” and that’s it. It’s called “One Last “Woo-hoo!” for the Pullman”. It didn’t fit these categories because it’s more funny than anything else.

In all, Illinois was a pretty good album with a lot of different aspects of music combined into one connected album. I really enjoyed listening to this and I would definitely recommend at least trying to listen to these songs. I would probably rate this album a 6/10 for overall quality because it had a lot of good songs in it, but I didn’t enjoy them all.