Music » Critics' Picks

Sufjan Stevens

Thursday, September 22; Mississippi Nights (914 North First Street)

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Everybody wants to talk about Sufjan Stevens' Christianity. But religion -- common in folk songs and hip-hop's holy shout-outs -- rarely rests easily in the cultivated skepticism of indie rock. So Stevens, perhaps, is a bit of an anomaly. But he's also quite the miracle: a humble, prodigiously talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist whose most recent album, Illinois, is both a musical and literary triumph. Stevens extends his beautiful despair to the entire state in some places ("Chicago, the New Age, but what would Frank Lloyd Wright say?") and keeps it heartbreakingly personal in others ("Goldenrod and the 4H stone/The things I brought you/when I found out you had cancer of the bone"). At just 30 years old, Stevens has raised enough ghosts and told enough stories to last a lifetime. And odds are good he'll keep believing -- in his God, his music and his fans.

Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14; call 314-421-3853 for more information.

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