Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Format: Compact disc (Spotify)
Like so many other Sufjan Stevens efforts, brevity is not the strong point of “Michigan,” the first of two albums in a now-abandoned project to make a record about each of the 50 states.
I doubted sincerely that Stevens ever took the project seriously. Even at a rate of two per year, it would take 25 years, which is an entire career.
Much like its counterpoint, the more acclaimed “Illinois,” “Michigan” is steeped in the state’s lore. It’s also Stevens’ home state.
Whereas “Illinois” is bright, wispy pop, “Michigan” is dour, rooted in sprawling, somber banjo and piano ballads.
What both state’s albums demonstrate is a complete lack of homage to both’s musical lineage, which includes Chicago blues, Motown, Detroit’s rock and blues scene and more.
“Michigan” drags as it wears on. “For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti” and “Holland,” two of the shorter, banjo-based numbers, work well, but the seven-, eight- and nine-minute piano pieces wear thin.
Even down to his immense song titles, Stevens shows through “Michigan” that restraint is not a word with which he’s greatly familiar.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.