There’s an interesting relationship that sometimes develops between musicians and listeners, especially if a musician writes “confessional” or emotional music. Listeners listen because we can connect with what’s being said; we can relate, and when it’s really good, we can learn about ourselves and our world in the music created by others.
But this can turn sour when the listener feels any sort of ownership over the music or the artist. Because music can be such a powerful force, listeners can often develop a strong attachment and even believe that they have a sense of ownership to the work.
But, what happens when the musician doesn’t want to be tied down and defined and drastically changes their “style”? Do listeners have the right to feel “betrayed” (I don’t think so, just to be clear, but that’s how I heard one person describe their reaction to Sufjan Stevens’ newest album)?
Sufjan Stevens recently shook up the expectations of his fans with his latest release The Age of Adz, ditching his pastoral, confessional, banjo-driven explorations for largely electronic work. For long-time fans, this is not a drastic change, but a return to the roots of his earliest albums, but for those who only came to know him through the “state” albums, it was a drastic departure.
Here, Stevens explains the inspiration behind the new work. It’s up to you whether or not it connects with you, but let the artist explore (thanks to Aaron Spiro for pointing this out).
- Listen to The Age of Adz