Sufjan Stevens Is So Back with ‘Javelin,’ Lead Single “So You Are Tired”

Sufjan Stevens press photo
Mercurial singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens returns to his roots, in a way, on the first single from a new long player | Courtesy of the artist

Like a tireless explorer laying new eyes on familiar horizons, the great Sufjan Stevens has announced his first album “in full singer-songwriter mode” since 2015’s acclaimed Carrie & Lowell, detailing Javelin (Oct. 6, Asthmatic Kitty) and releasing its lead single “So You Are Tired” on Monday.

After nearly a decade of collaboration and experimentation, with a particular focus on the electronic sounds of 2020’s The Ascension, Stevens now returns to the intimate acoustic vein from which he’s mined some of his 25-year career’s most precious gems. Like many of those, “So You Are Tired” brims with heartache and regret, as the silken-voiced singer-songwriter acknowledges a romantic gap that simply can’t be bridged. The evocative instrumental, at first all sparse piano and violin, grows to encompass fingerpicked acoustic guitar, chimes and tambourine, as well, with a tender bed of harmonies from adrienne maree brown, Hannah Cohen and Megan Lui magnifying the song’s emotional resonance and scope.

“So You Are Tired” finds Stevens threading a needle, passing the near-spiritual poignance of his most personal songwriting through the eye of his penchant for unabashed maximalism. Put more simply, the song does much with little, uniting the artist’s past and present both in form and content — “So you are tired of us / So rest your head / Turning back fourteen years / Of what I did and said,” he sings in its hushed opening lines. “So You Are Tired” is at its most rapturous when Stevens offers respite not with his words, but with his music: At multiple points across its near-five-minute runtime, Stevens’ lead vocal falls away, blending into his chorus of collaborators as the song’s strings swell and its bass drum booms — something inside you may, too.

You can hear new music from Sufjan Stevens, and music from local, regional, national and international artists on our music discovery station The Independent 89.9 HD4. And you can follow our Fresh Squeeze playlist on Spotify to stream all the best new music, updated every month.

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