I had an idea from what I'd heard that Sufjan's work was a bit eclectic and unusual, but I wasn't prepared to experience such a wonderfully addictive album with catchy melodies and complex, thoughtful lyrics.
Sufjan's work is very unusual and difficult to describe or even categorize. My best description would be the vocals of Paul Simon over a blend of They Might be Giants, Paul Simon, Steve Reich, Vince Guaraldi, Bluegrass and Folk bands, with Schoolhouse Rock tossed in for good measure. Instruments include piano, strings, brass, oboe, banjos and glockenspiels. Quite the mix!
As I replay the album, it becomes more and more attractive... it's one of those works which grows on me, revealing new aspects with each listen. Illinois is the kind of album I find myself coming back to, never tiring of another listen.
The 22 song album features song topics which range from UFO sightings in Highland Park, and a sad ballad about John Wayne Gacy Jr., to the Black Hawk War, Superman, Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln. Illinois also features songs about Jacksonville, Decatur, and Chicago. The iTunes Music Store version includes 2 additional tracks: a remix of Chicago by jongalloway and Avalanche, an out-take.
This is actually the 2nd installment of Sufjan's "States" album series. some have had the idea he plans to do an album for each of the 50 US states, though this is not confirmed. The Michigan album, was the first in the "States" series. That album is next on my list. Here's a complete MP3 of Holland from that album.
You won't regret it.