Just in time for the Fourth of July, Sufjan Stevens released an aptly titled single called “America.” The 12-minute track features a whirlwind production complete with drums, rifts, guitar, synths and Stevens’s vocals fading in and out.
The emphasis is placed on the production value, which presents itself at various intensities throughout the song’s duration from uncertainty and haunt to tranquility. The song itself is mostly instrumental.
Stevens repeats lines like “don’t do to me what you did to America” and includes biblical references to Judas and Thomas and admits that he is losing is faith. It also contains apocalyptic references in the lyrics, such as, “The sign of the cross awaiting disaster/ The dove flew to me like a vision of paranoia.”
In a statement, Stevens said “America” is “a protest song against the sickness of American culture in particular.” New Music Express states that Stevens is begging an inanimate force not to spare him from doom like America has seen recently from COVID-19 to continued marginalization of certain communities.
“America” is the lead single off of Stevens’s upcoming album, The Ascension, which will be released on September 25 through Asthmatic Kitty Records. It will be the artist’s second project this year. Steven and his stepfather, Lowell Brams, released a collaboration album, Aporia, on March 24. The date was pushed back from March 27 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ascension will be Stevens’s first solo album since 2015’s Carrie & Lowell. Since then, he’s released multiple collaboration albums and singles. These songs include 2017’s “Tonya Harding,” “Visions of Gideon” and “Mystery of Love. ” The latter two appeared on the soundtrack of “Call Me By Your Name,” and “Mystery of Love” earned Stevens an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. In 2019, he released “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart” for Pride Month.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna