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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

With the release of his 13th album on October 6th, Sufjan Stevens shared with the world a heartfelt dedication. Stevens, who had never previously opened up about his relationship, dedicated Javelin to his late partner Evans Richardson who passed away in April. In a social media post, he describes Richardson as “an absolute gem of a person, full of life, love, laughter, curiosity, integrity, and joy.” He went on to urge others to “Live every day as if it is your last, with fullness and grace, with reverence and love, with gratitude and joy.”

I listened to this album with this dedication in mind. As in all of Stevens’s albums, I anticipated his artistry and beautiful lyricism. I expected it to be reminiscent of Carrie & Lowell, an album that came in the wake of a similar state of grieving. However, I found that this album differed sincerely, particularly in its mysticism, in the sense of fantasy created through Stevens’s manipulation of instruments and collaborative vocals.

The cover art for Javelin is a complicated assortment of photographs that come together in a sort of collage. Faces are cut off, eyes crossed out, and each photo looks worn, as though individually hand-cut and carefully placed upon the blue and brown background. The title itself is written in a bubblegum pink across the top, in a font reminiscent of fluffy paint used in past elementary art projects. This cover speaks to what is to come in this album, the disarray that comes together so beautifully.

The album begins with a goodbye. The slow piano of “Goodbye Evergreen” sits behind Stevens’s familiarly poignant lyrics as he tells a tale of loss. Until it shifts into a crescendo of chaos, a myriad of instruments and continued repetition of the song’s title and the lyric “You know I love you”. The song closes fading into softer wind instruments.

Next is “A Running Start”, a song that brings to mind playful childhood memories, unlocking a sense of innocence and wonder within the listener.

“Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” follows, and Stevens’s voice is full of sincerity as he poses this existential question. It feels as though you are experiencing his emotions through his earnestness.

“Everything That Rises” involves soft guitar and towards the end he repeats the song’s title, a further reminder that we will all return back to the earth.

“Genuflecting Ghost” feels like a religious ballad, beyond the song’s title. It reminds me of stained glass windows, of a soft prayer as one kneels against a cushioned wooden bench.

In “My Red Little Fox” he pleads for someone to kiss him like the wind, kiss him from within with vocals that can only be described as angelic.

“So You Are Tired” speaks to the end of a relationship. It carries over the angelic vocals featured in the prior ballad that portrays his forlornness.

“Javelin (To Have And To Hold)” is a slow and short song that contains great emotion.

“Shit Talk” speaks to how in spite of the love he feels, the relationship can continue no longer. He begs the individual to “hold me closely” and expresses his desire to stop fighting. This song is emotional and lacks the harshness its title may convey.

The album ends with a cover of “There’s A World” by Neil Young. This end track offers a serene resolution to the work, continuing to incorporate his angelic chorus and sweet guitar. Stevens’s cover is very different from Young’s original and takes on a new meaning in marking the finish of this truly beautiful tale of loss and love.

Seton Gerrity is a new member of HerCampus at the University of Virginia. She is a first year from Annapolis, Maryland who is currently undecided for her major.