American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums of 2015: Presented by D’Addario

10. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell The subject matter in lesser hands might have been maudlin and overbearing, as Stevens largely focuses the album on the death of his mother and the complicated relationship he had with her. He avoids these pitfalls in numerous ways. First of all, the music he conjures is light as air and achingly pretty. The lyrics meanwhile balance between the more harrowing aspects of his mother’s life and death and his own struggles to make sense of mysteries common to us all. He may contemplate a suicidal car crash in “The Only Thing”, but he also is struck by the beauty of his newborn niece in “Should Have Known Better” with its telling refrain of “illumination.” There are no easy answers to be had, as Stevens looks to fables and myths when the reality in front of him gets messy. But on “Fourth Of July,” he confronts his Mom on her deathbed, a moment rendered with bittersweet beauty and grace. Stevens triumphs by making these extremely personal experiences somehow seem universal on Carrie & Lowell. 9. Natalie Prass: Natalie Prass For an artist that has her share of experience as sidewoman and team-player as a…

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