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4.5 out of 5 stars
All Delighted People
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Why is this classified as an EP, I ask you? It is more full of ideas, beauty, pathos, experimentation, and yes, length, than many releases nowadays. I have loved all of Sufjan Steven's work ever since picking up Seven Swans years ago (though Sun and Rabbit are not quite as quality filled, in my opinion), but even I did not expect the effect this cd would have on me. Being an older music fan, longer songs have always appealed to me (yeah, my prog love is showing), and this cd is stuffed with them. But, they never wear on me, I never grow bored...I just want to put on the headphones and tune the world out. I have listened to his cd so many times since buying it, I cannot even begin to count...sometimes several times in a row.

An added bonus is having my 10 year old daughter, after overhearing it in my studio, becoming just as attached to the cd as I am (and even branching out into Simon and Garfunkel because of the repeated homage in one of the songs). After exposing her to more Stevens, she is probably the only 10 year old repeatedly listening to a beautiful song about a serial killer (John Wayne Gacey, from the Illinois album). Is that a good thing? I think it is.

This is the music I want to soothe me on my deathbed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2010
Format: MP3 Music
I like Sufjan a lot. His lyrics have such a wonderful way of drawing me into intimate stories before yanking me back out to take a look at my own life, America, God, and much more. His music, as he describes it, is often the perfect combination of high art and low art, merging the warmth of folk music with the grandiose of a symphony orchestra. When these elements are at full effect as they are throughout much of Illinois, Michigan, and Seven Swans, he hits me like few others can.

Then there are moments where his ambitions seem to run off and leave me in the cold emotionally. Long, flute-heavy instrumentals, while still technically impressive, never connect for me the same way he does in simpler moments like his astounding Casimir Pulaski Day.

As you might expect, this EP (which only maybe qualifies as such based on its hour-long run time) leans a little more toward the latter style. The title tracks are a suitably epic ode to the apocalypse, which I can't claim to have fully absorbed yet. The Owl and the Tanager is a gorgeous piano-driven song, and the closing track a 17 minute guitar song for single mothers. The point is, this is some eccentric and wildly creative stuff. Fortunately for fans, it's also really really good once you take the time to get into it.

I'd also highly recommend streaming it off his site at [...] before buying it. Enjoy!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2011
Format: Audio CD
i know. who cares about my personal listening history with sufjan stevens...? somehow, it seems relevant to me. i bought "seven swans" upon its release all those years ago. i played it; i liked it. i liked some of it a lot. i was not driven to purchase his other releases. what did i care about michigan and illinois(e)? then i saw that some magazine had rated "the age of adz" as the album of the year. i was curious. i bought it. i thought, "this guy is either a genius or the biggest show-off of all time." after a few more listens, i was flabbergasted and was forcing people to listen. i had to know if others heard what i heard....if they would be as overwhelmed as i was... needless to say, it didn't take me long to go out and get "illinoise", "michigan", "enjoy your rabbit", "the avalanche", "a sun came", and, finally, "all delighted people." (i have the christmas set on order.) (the "bqe" will be next. somehow i know it.)
i see the number of reviews some of sufjan stevens' albums have received, and i was shocked to see how few reviews have been written about "all delighted people."
i know i've played it fifty times in the past few weeks. i wonder if people are avoiding it because of it being labelled an ep. it's over an hour of incredible, intense, beautiful, heart-crushing, unbelievable music. i think, with this one, i've answered my own question. he may be a show-off....he MAY be, but, without a doubt, something is going on here. this man is shocking in his ambition...and he pulls it all off. i am astonished; i find myself listening in disbelief. occasionally i have flashes of certain phases of todd rundgren; at other times, i am reminded of van dyke parks' "song cycle," but, ultimately, this is music that, as far as i know, could only have been created by sufjan stevens.
i haven't been this musically obsessed in a long time, and it feels really good. :-)
throughout this intense avalanche of his music, "all delighted people" seems to be my favorite. i wonder how different the listening experience would have been if i had listened to each one upon its release instead of bombarding myself with all of it pretty much all at once. for one thing, i might be less exhausted from the intensity.
i vote "genius."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: MP3 Music
Sufjan Stevens is one of those few artists who can truly stun you with just how passionate and talented he is. Need an example? Take the shimmering, enchantingly lovely "All Delighted People EP," which is actually longer than many full-length albums -- colorful folk pop, warbly vocals, and a strong religious slant.

"Tomorrow you'll see it through/The clouded out disguises put you in the room," Stevens sings mournfully in "All Delighted People (original)," which drifts between soft, bittersweet folk-rock and an epic song of soaring angelic choirs and sweeping strings.

As if the music wasn't good enough, Stevens sings of overcoming inner fear, doubt and hypocrisy ("I tried my best I tried in vain/Oh! But the world is a mess! Oh! But the world is a mess!"). There's also a brass-soaked "classic-rock" version of the title track, which sounds far more cheerful despite having the same lyrics.

I think my brain would explode if the entire album was like that, so fortunately the next songs are less intense. Instead, Stevens relies on soft piano-led melodies, earthy guitar folk, twinkly soaring little ballads (from the POV of God?), and murky experimental ballads. And it ends with "Djohariah," a seventeen-minute rock epic of squiggling synth, trumpets and melancholy guitar.

"All Delighted People" is an almost perfect example of what Sufjan Stevens can do. Without losing sight of his classic sound (the classic rock "All Delighted People" made me flash back to his first album), Stevens manages to expand his sound to include some new, spellbinding musical journeys. The first song is a trip all on its own!

In fact, there's only one song that didn't blow me away: "The Owl and the Tanager," which isn't bad so much as kind of... musically slow.

His music centers mostly on folk-rock rhythms, with lots of acoustic guitar and piano. But many of the melodies are dressed up with colorful sonic garlands -- plucked harp, violins, flittering/squiggling synth, and blasts of brass. And there are those crystalline vocals that soar up in "All Delighted People (original)" and "From The Mouth of Gabriel," as if he's getting some angelic backing.

Speaking of which, Stevens inserts gentle Christian undercurrents into a few of the songs -- not the "rah rah Jesus is awesome!" type, but haunting explorations of sorrow, fear and humanity. The rest of the EP is about love -- rejected love, shattered love , lost love ("And if it grieves you to stay here, just go... For I have no spell on you, it's all a ghost"), and love for someone who has been betrayed.

The "All Delighted People EP" is not only longer than most full-length albums, but it's a layered, exquisite little collection of songs that deserves repeated listens. All delighted people, raise your hands.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2010
Format: MP3 Music
To call "All Delighted People" an e.p. is a bit of a misnomer. Since the music clocks in at over 60 minutes - much longer than many "full length" recordings (l.p.'s?) - it must simply refer to the relatively few number of tracks (by Sufjan's standards). Many of us probably expected Sufjan to spend the rest of his life finishing his promising "50 States" project. It's obvious by now, that aint happenin'. But that is no cause for disappointment. Anyone familiar with Sufjan's music knows that the only thing you can expect from him is for him to defy expectations, anyway. This latest installment is no exception. While it steps back from the edgy, purely instrumental offering of The B.Q.E., it is easy to see the musical ancestry from that recording to this. What strikes me more than anything on "All Delighted People" is Sufjan's obvious vocal development since his last vocal offering. Known for his soft, plaintively beautiful vocals, Sufjan actually sounds like he is straining himself to reach new heights on this recording. Combined with his "everything-including-the-kitchen-sink musical approach, the results are exciting (not always the first adjective that comes to mind in describing his music), pleasing and impressive. Sufjan is always forging new territory creatively, so you can be assured you won't hear anything else quite like this all year.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 16, 2010
Format: MP3 Music
For those struggling with multifarious bleeps, electronica and 25 minute mini symphonies which comprise the new and amazing Sufjan Stevens "The Age of Adz" turning the clock back a couple of months might provide some solace. "All delighted people" was released in August 2010 and hit number 27 in the American charts which is remarkable for an EP which is actually a "front" for a full album. It clocks in at well over an hour and was probably intended as some sort of overture before the main opera that is "Adz". Yet as always when it comes to this wunderkid of modern American music from Detroit, Michigan appearances can be deceiving. This is by any standards a lovely piece of music with songs that have more traditional structures and possibly more melody than "Adz" (although not the sheer level of outright originality). In one sense it does have the same sort of feel as the eclecticism of "Avalanches" Stevens's album of outtakes and extras from the Illinois album and like that album there are some tracks which are slightly "wayward", but largely in a good way.

There is certainly no coherent vision to or concept to be found here. The two long versions of the title track present are acoustic and electric versions which together last well over twenty minutes and with a feel that suggest Stevens is developing "prog" leanings and lyrics which play with Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence". The last track "Djohariah" (dedicated to his sister) is described by Stevens as essentially "a 17-minute guitar jam-for-single-mothers" which on occasions rages like the return of Frank Zappa with a slightly distorted guitar and a choir singing a constant refrain of the subjects name.

While all these long bookend tracks are fascinating it is "the meat in the sandwich" that should draw your attention. The stellar highlight is "the Owl and the Tanager" (previously called "Barn owl, night killer") which is a heartbreaking Stevens melody combined with the sparest piano/harp and lyrical references to devil birds, death and diamonds in the rage. It's all very enigmatic, strange, child like and glacially beautiful and one of his best songs ever. There are other songs here that can be traced back to earlier work particularly the feast of banjo led melancholy on the wonderful "Seven Swans". Thus, "Arnika", "Heirloom" and the truly brilliant "From the mouth of Gabriel" will have the ring of familiarity to fans of the wintry acoustic songs of Stevens's earlier work. Finally "Enchanting ghost" is a jazzy acoustic lament which could have happily appeared on one of his "Two state" albums.

NME has described "All Delighted people" as painfully celestial balladeering self-indulgence and it is true that in parts its lacks focus and direction (it would be a shock if it was coherent!). Similarly the absence of "Majesty Snowbird" a song he has performed live which redefines the word "epic" is to be regretted. But on considered judgement let us tell the muso's at NME to politely take a hike since "All delighted people" will be welcomed by all Asthmatic Kitty Aficionados as yet another intriguing addition to the canon of the most original musician currently picking up a guitar, playing a piano or plucking a banjo on terra firma.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2010
Format: MP3 Music
Plucks the heart strings like none other; yes, Sufjan has evolved, but he hasn't lost anything of his ability to create the most beautiful, emotive music to be found anywhere. "From the mouth of Gabriel" and "The Owl and the Tanager" are ridiculously amazing songs.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I dont always enjoy everything that Sufjan performs, and I'm STILL not on board with the ADZ album, cos of the electronica is harsh, and not the most original sound right now either. However, Michigan, Illinois, A Sun Game, became favorite albums for me...at least most of the songs were hits on my stereo. ALL DELIGHTED PEOPLE ranks as a true breakthru from MY perspective. (OK, its not a symphony with a film, but it IS filled with top notch songs, filled with Sufjan's amazing music.) Buy this album for two songs, DJOHARIAH, a 17 minute song dedicated to Sufjan's sister, and the "classic rock" version of ALL DELIGHTED PEOPLE. Actually, I downloaded DJOHARIAH and listened to it so much, i bought the whole "EP". While most of the songs have the common folk elements in much of his music, the choirs, the banjo, the religious imagery in the lyrics, the post rock song structures, etc, there are also the rock songs, that truly stand out. FROM THE MOUTH OF GABRIEL ranks as the best of the folk songs, with little bits of electronica seeping in, like in many areas of the album. However, its those two "ROCK" songs that place this title as a VERY important work in his repetoire. DJOHARIAH works, like those long, trippy rock songs, that incessantly build, as some total freakout guitar playing screams on, from the late 60s/early 70s. (PICTURE: the guitar solo from FUNKADELIC's MAGGOT BRAIN meets FRANK ZAPPA's HOT RATS.) Once more, Mr. STevens assimulates a style and transcends it concurrently. NOTHING about this song is dated, unlike some psychedelic styles that hung on from the Classic Rock period. Four chords, wordless voices, and a TOTAL FREAK OUT guitar solo that just keeps coming at you, and coming at you, while DJOHARIAH is repeated like a mantra guarenteed to produce musical transcendance. Maybe 8 or 9 minutes of this incredible build up during the song, with the guitar solo just growing more insane, until the tension breaks, and the song changes gears, for a few verses to discuss the situation at hand. After we find out what's up with Sufjan's sister, we go back to the empowering blow out guitar solo, while EVERYTHING builds up around it, right to a bottomless abyss of psychedelic soundscapes. Those 17 minutes of song glide past timelessly, and takes the breath away. WHen the song ends, after your mind returns, your first thought might be "OH, it ended TOO SOON!", which is exactly what a 17 minute song SHOULD do. The other BIG NUMBER is ALL DELIGHTED PEOPLE (I enjoy the CLASSIC ROCK version). That song begins in a folk vein, vocals and banjo, with little rock instrumentation. The second verse contains horn charts, rhythm section of bass and drums, and the backing vocals. Again, this song's textures build, and contain a wonderful horn chart solo. Interestingly, Simon and Garfunkel's SONG OF SILENCE gets quoted during the song's lyrics repeatedly. Then, the last two minutes of ALL DELIGHTED PEOPLE has that FREAK OUT guitar solo, like what's on Djoriah, but overdubbed with a sonic blast of ambient, atonal electronica.

If you are a Sufjan Steven's fan, I dont think you can go wrong with this album. Personally, I find it closer to his "classic" style from the state albums, especially with the way his textures work, from thick to thin on the turn of a dime. For his long term fans, its the LONG composistion itself, and the freak out guitar solos, that mark this album as unique, and a step beyond Sufjan's music previous to this album. (Plus, this album points the direction he took towards the electronica in ADZ.) So, dont think of ALL DELIGHTED PEOPLE as a minor piece, an "EP". The album version of this "EP" is two records long! Between the melodic folk songs, and the psychedelic art rock experiment dedicated Sufjan's sister Djorahiah as a single mother, you will be, DEFINATELY WILL BE, BLOWN AWAY.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
For an ep this packs a wallop. It's a full meal. I've been listening to it all day on a constant rotation and I have yet to tire of it. I don't find it overdone at all but brimming with ideas and an intrinsic soulfulness. I particularly love the last track written for his sister. Well done.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I bought this ep because I buy pretty much everything Sufjan Stevens does - I always find him brilliant, sometimes moving, sometimes (rarely) boring. This is a mixture that I find in all his stuff, and All Delighted People is no exception. The title track is incredible in both its versions, a mixture of pretty much everything you can do in folk, pop and rock. 'Heirloom' and 'Enchanting Ghost' are quiet and moving. Other things, though, are a bit overdone - see the final track. But on the whole, I still find everything by Stevens worth having.
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