Out of left field, Asthmatic Kitty Records announced the release of All Delighted People, a 60+ minute EP by the ever-so-prolific Sufjan Stevens, in a seemingly innocuous e-mail listserv newsletter. To the dismay of some, All Delighted People is not a follow-up to Illinois (2005), his second installment in his epic song cycle series about each of the 50 states.
With torment and desperation in his freak-folk falsetto, Stevens sings "I tried my best I tried in vain/I do love you a lot/Do you love me from the top of your heart?" against the cherubic harmonies of his accompanying choir in "All Delighted People (Original Version)."
Unfortunately, the three crescendos of strident instrumental cacophonies that are timely and lyrically relevant make this otherwise impeccably glorious track difficult to listen to. "Enchanting Ghost" is reminiscent of vintage Stevens a la Seven Swans. On this EP as well is "All Delighted People (Classic Rock Version)," that at 8:07 minutes is redundant - if not, overkill "“ because the original version is 11:38 minutes. AK Records describes the rest of the album as: " ...the 17-minute guitar jam-for-single-mothers 'Djohariah,' and the gothic piano ballad 'The Owl and the Tanager,' a live-show mainstay."
In an interview with The Guardian conducted less than a year ago, Sufjan laughed when asked about the Fifty States Project: "I have no qualms about admitting it was a promotional gimmick."
However, as a standalone entity from it, All Delighted People will surely be a delight to your ears as everything else Stevens has released has. He is as consistent as he is prolific.