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Elliott Smith
Essential tracks: Sufjan Stevens' 'Carrie & Lowell' hits a personal chord
Essential tracks: Sufjan Stevens' 'Carrie & Lowell' hits a personal chord

Sufjan Stevens, "Carrie & Lowell" (Asthmatic Kitty). Over his decade-plus as a working musician, Stevens has tackled a range of impressively big-ticket projects, including a series of album-length odes to states in the Union, a giddy, joyous dance-rock record called "The Age of Adz" and multimedia art projects. His roots, though, are as a guitar-based songwriter, the kind searching for beauty amid strummed chords and counterpoint arrangements. "Carrie & Lowell" are the real-life names of Stevens' late mother and stepfather, so these 11 songs have an autobiographical tint to them, even if Stevens has long played with fact and fiction (see his...

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