Sufjan Stevens digs deep in his most recent album ‘Carrie and Lowell”. Carrie was his mother; Lowell, his stepfather. Here is how Sufjan describes his relationship with Carrie: “She left when I was 1, so I have no memory of her and my father being married. She just wandered off. She felt that she wasn’t equipped to raise us, so she gave us to our father. It wasn’t until I was 5 that Carrie married Lowell. He worked in a bookstore in Eugene, Oregon, and we spent three summers out there—that’s when we actually saw our mother the most. But after she and Lowell split up, we didn’t have that much contact with Carrie.” The song ‘Fourth of July’ is a reconstructed, partially imaginary conversation between the young Sufjan and his mother, the verses alternating between the two. Stevens’ music is heavily influenced by classical minimalism. In this case, a repetitive phrase bangs out on the piano, with a synth for atmosphere. The melody is all in the voice, and as is typical with Stevens, extremely beautiful. One quirk with Stevens; his performance videos on ‘youtube’ are almost all execrable; he’s at his best in the studio, and that’s what I’ve linked below.