Based on output alone, Sufjan Stevens is proving to be one of the most prolific and influential indie musicians of the last twenty years. His catalogue is marked by many sprawling concept albums like the notoriously unfulfilled “50 States Project” and collaborations with prominent cultural figures including his stepfather Lowell Brams. His new album with Angelo De Augustine, A Beginner’s Mind, fits perfectly into his eclectic catalogue.
A collaborative album between the Asthmatic Kitty labelmates, the two artists started writing together while on a month-long songwriting sabbatical together. Drawing inspiration from movies that they would watch at the end of the day, the resulting songs are not retellings of the movies, but rather meditations on the deeper themes and ideas within.
Musically, the album reflects the melancholic folk style that both Stevens and De Augustine are known for, and their collaboration amplifies the best qualities of each artist. Rich vocal harmonies fill the album and showcase how beautifully their voices blend together, such as in “Lady Macbeth In Chains.” A majority of the songs have a reflective mood, but there are occasionally bursts of energy, like in “Back To Oz.” A Beginner’s Mind is a beautiful, engaging, and thought-provoking album.