Album review: Sufjan Stevens â€“ All Delighted People EP
Late last week, Sufjan Stevens unexpectedly dropped a challenging and mostly grooveless EP on his Bandcamp page (only $5!). Highlighted by the joyous gospel epic 17-minute track “Djohariah,” All Delighted People is a difficult listen. Either the songs are bogged down by too much going on (such as the 11-minute original version of “All Delighted People”), or there just is not enough to latch on to in the first place (like “The Owl And The Tanager” or “Heirloom”). “Enchanting Ghost” is pretty, and I mostly enjoyed the classic rock version of “All Delighted People,” but “Djohariah” itself is the only song that really stands out.
Regardless, the album did get me wondering: what exactly is an EP anymore?
EPs in the past have had different connotations. Usually, they are short. Sometimes, they’re just a small batch of throwaway songs or b-sides. Other times, they’re used to put out a bit of work simply to share where the artist might be at that moment. With All Delighted People, I have no idea. Why isn’t this one of his main albums?
First, while it has only 8 songs, it still lasts for an hour. There is no way these songs were quickly made, the most impressive thing about them is how much care has gone into them. Does Sufjan intend this to be taken outside the realm of his long albums? There’s as much going on, both lyrically and musically, that this piece of music has as much to delve into as any of Sufjan’s albums. Why was this delegated to EP status? Does “EP” still indicate a side project of sorts? I don’t imagine that Sufjan meant that here. What exactly does EP mean anymore? By calling this an EP, what affect should that have on the listener? On the critic? On the artist?
I don’t have the answers, but I can say, if you’ve never heard Sufjan Stevens’ music, start with one of his non-EPS, this one is too much work.