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Greetings from Michigan - The Great Lake State (Deluxe Version)

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Album Review

Sufjan Stevens' third album is a charming homage to his home state of Michigan. Filled with heartbreak, the album cryptically addresses Stevens' frustration with the notorious job market in the city of Flint in a lovely ballad that opens the record, and documents the depressing struggle the city of Detroit has fought to once again attain the elegance it had prior to the riots in the late '60s; however, it also touches on a brighter side, as in the cascading "Say Yes! to M!ch!gan!" Its title is a reference to the campaign adopted by the state in the 1980s and serves as the centerpiece as well as Stevens' attachment and amour for the state he is from. Musically, Stevens often plays his Jim O'Rourke and Stereolab cards, riffing along with complex polyphony in building loops and dynamics, but he also frequently imports lightly strummed guitars and stark banjo picking to break up the album and give it a rustic northern folk aesthetic. Stevens comfortably handles nearly every instrument on the album — an impressive task that includes various keyboards, woodwinds, guitars, and percussions — but also enlisted the help of Megan, Elin, and Daniel Smith from the Danielson Famile to help out with vocal duties, and the outcome is a haunting and hypnotic studio opus certainly worth getting lost in. [Rough Trade's 2004 edition included two bonus tracks.]

Customer Reviews

Happy in Michigan

Stevens has done good work for a while. This is a nice beginning of his views on the states of the country. He has a nice way of setting moods in the songs and he is a talented instrumentalist. And those who don't live in Michigan should know that he had a great interpretation of his home.

Woooo-Hoooo! MICHIGAN!!!!!

Great album! Especially for anyone from michigan, like me!

35 Years Overdue

While I've never been to Michigan, Sufjan Steven's first state-themed album has the remarkable ability to give you understanding as to what the residents of his cherished homestate are going through, as if you had grown up there, as well. This is quite an emotionally diverse and musically rich experience which takes you from one "location" to the next with Steven's brilliant storyteller songwriting. One thing in particular I loved about the music was its quirky late 60s feel. While Sufjan's style is quite original, I could definitely sense how "Michigan" was influenced by musicians from this era, including Phillip Glass, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Frank Zappa. Despite the numerous minimalist crescendos and the endless notes at the ends of several of the songs, this is overall a relevant, complex, and poignant narrative that screams for status as a classic album. My two main regrets, however, are that Sufjan (of course) couldn't have been around to actually release this in the late 60s, where it might have gained a wider audience, and that there are, bafflingly enough, only five or so other reviews here. But despite these things, it's clear to me that Sufjan Stevens has produced a treasure that deserves to be remembered by both Michiganites and the rest of America for generations to come.


Born: July 1, 1975 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose music deals with both the personal and the spiritual while accompanied by simple but striking musical patterns, Detroit-born Sufjan Stevens started venturing into the music world while attending Hope College as a member of Marzuki, a folk-rock band based in Holland, Michigan. Following the release of two full-length albums with the group, Stevens decided to go solo in late 1999, investing fully in a career that was waiting to shine by itself. Sun...
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