Over the course of his career, Sufjan Stevens has blurred distinctions between the major and the minor, between the details that color our existence and the big events that frame our lives. He has turned historical footnotes of States into kaleidoscopic pop, and rendered the immeasurable grief of loss with intimacy and grace.
His new album Javelin—Sufjan’s first solo album of songs since 2020’s The Ascension and his first in full solo singer-songwriter mode since 2015’s Carrie & Lowell—bridges all these approaches. Sufjan uses the quietness of a solitary confession to ask universal questions in songs we can share communally. Accompanying the CD and LP formats of the album is a 48-page book of art and essays. With a series of meticulous collages, cut-up catalog fantasies, puff-paint word clouds, and iterative color fields, Sufjan builds order from seeming chaos and vice versa. And toward the middle of it all are 10 short essays by Sufjan, another window into the process that informed Javelin.