Asthmatic Kitty announce 20th Anniversary Edition of Sufjan Stevens ‘Seven Swans’

Asthmatic Kitty announce 20th Anniversary Edition of Sufjan Stevens ‘Seven Swans’


“[Seven Swans] feels like an entirely magical visitation”
The Guardian

Listen to Seven Swans here:

Listen to ‘The Dress Looks Nice On You’ here:

Pre-order the limited Dinked Edition here:

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The folk songs of¬†Sufjan Stevens‚Äô¬†Seven Swans¬†occupy a singular space in the singer-songwriter‚Äôs prolific catalogue. To celebrate the album‚Äôs 20th anniversary,¬†Asthmatic Kitty Records¬†announces¬†Seven Swans (Deluxe Edition), an expanded version of the original album with special digital and physical editions, out 21 June and available for preorder now. In this new anniversary edition – which features embossed artwork – the LP is accompanied by a flexi-disc featuring the album‚Äôs original b-sides ‘I Went Dancing With My Sister’ and ‘Waste of What Your Kids Won’t Have’, which will also appear on the digital version for the first time. The reissued album will be available in a variety of physical formats, including a zoetrope picture disc edition as well as on silver vinyl. In the UK there will also be an exclusive, hand numbered ‘Cream in Black Corona’ Dinked Edition which comes with 7 origami swans + instructions. Limited to 1000.

For Stevens,¬†Seven Swans¬†has remained a work in constant motion, something to revisit and reinvent at each stage in his evolution. With an atmosphere that feels equally cosy and cosmic, the album is carried by the refined pluck of Stevens‚Äô banjo and acoustic guitar, the confessional tug of his voice, the tension of his melodies, and the profound questions of devotion and doubt that drive his songwriting to this day.A definitive moment in Stevens‚Äô body of work, the quiet, psalm-like music of¬†Seven Swans¬†arrived less than a year after his 2003 breakthrough album,¬†Michigan¬†and his much-publicised announcement to write an album for each of the 50 states. Wider audiences were becoming acquainted with the ever-evolving artist‚ÄĒwho had, by this point, released a lo-fi folk-pop collage (2000‚Äôs¬†A Sun Came), a Zodiac-inspired electronic suite (2001‚Äôs¬†Enjoy Your Rabbit), and a grand, orchestral epic to kickstart his exploration of the country (Michigan)‚ÄĒwhen Sufjan re-introduced himself in the hushed tones of this album.

First released by Sounds Familyre in March 2004, Seven Swans marked a rare instance of Stevens ceding control as a producer. Working with Daniel Smith, the leader of the folk collective Danielson Famile, Stevens tracked these songs in Clarksboro, New Jersey, utilising Smith’s home studio and recording space in the New Jerusalem Rec Room. When Smith chose to accompany Stevens, he accentuated the songs with ghostly choral backing vocals, crisp brush-stroked drums, the playful chime of a keyboard, and, in the closing moments of the record, a triumphant fanfare that teased the melodic motif from Stevens’ imminent 2005 classic Chicago.

In this way,¬†Seven Swans¬†draws a direct line from Stevens‚Äô home-recorded early work to the biggest stages he had ever played, blending his pop instincts with his penchant for fragile, open-ended character studies. The lyrics veer between the intimate‚ÄĒa best friend‚Äôs wedding, a bedside in the early morning‚ÄĒand the expansive: the mountain where Abraham was called to sacrifice his son, a sky filled with apocalyptic visions. On¬†Seven Swans, the writing is intuitive and swift, never settling quite long enough to reveal the full picture: a quality that‚Äôs made these songs an enduring source of scholarly conversation among his devoted fanbase.Stevens himself has frequently reinterpreted this material over the years. If you caught his 2006 tour with the “Illinoisemakers” band, you may have seen him emerge on stage with wings affixed to his back, leading his accompanists through an electric, Crazy Horse-style overture that comprises more than half the runtime of ‘Sister’. On the technicolour live shows behind 2011‚Äôs noise-pop overhaul¬†The Age of Adz, Stevens opened his sets with¬†Seven Swans‚Äô bracing title track, embellishing its operatic arc with newfound drama and theatrics.

Despite cultivating a vast influence that spans genres,¬†Seven Swans¬†is defined by its sense of intimacy. Think of it as Stevens‚Äô self-penned book of prayer, a talisman that‚Äôs never been far from reach. This was a time in his career when his songwriting dealt explicitly with themes of Christianity, and his stark performances helped bring the celestial down to earth. Staples of his songbook like ‘The Dress Looks Nice on You’ and ‘To Be Alone With You’ are disarming in their gentleness, and for every gesture toward a divine presence, Stevens knew how to balance it with a vulnerable expression of humanity, using the language of love songs to outline the shadow of uncertainty in devoting ourselves to something bigger. Listening to¬†Seven Swans¬†leaves us with enough hope, mystery, and wisdom to make it feel alive and exalting whenever we return.

Photo credit: Danny Renshaw

High-res images are available here

Pre-order Seven Swans (Deluxe Edition) here:

Seven Swans (Deluxe Edition) tracklist:

1. All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands
2. The Dress Looks Nice on You
3. In the Devil’s Territory
4. To Be Alone with You
5. Abraham
6. Sister
7. Size Too Small
8. We Won’t Need Legs to Stand
9. A Good Man Is Hard to Find
10. He Woke Me Up Again
11. Seven Swans
12. The Transfiguration

1. I Went Dancing with My Sister
2. Waste of What Your Kids Won’t Have