There are certain songs that force you to pause, soak in the lyrics, and respect the story it is telling. I’m sure I’m conveying nothing new to many of you, but Sufjan’s music often has that effect on me, whether he knows it or not.
Through the subtle crescendos, each pick at the banjo, and the soft sweet female vocal accompaniment, Sufjan mastered the scene of his story and told it with vividness. And we, the listeners, have the opportunity to “witness” this sweetly, sorrowful tale.
My favorite song of his, "For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fathers in Ypsilanti," is the same way. It is the type of song that stirs something from within and moves you to experience melancholy emotions of awe/appreciation/thoughtfulness. Together with the banjo, the horn section adds such a lovely sorrowful touch. As Sufjan and his female accompaniment's voice crescendo with the lyrics "I'll do anything for you, I did everything for you," there is this sense of longing, pleading, but yet still appreciation. The emotions that Sufjan can stir makes it hard to ever grow tired of his songs.
Here is an acoustic version of the song:
I love folk, so I deeply enjoy this side of Sufjan, but if you would like to listen to something different from him, I highly suggest you listen to "You are the Blood" (a Castanet's cover) from the Dark Was the Night compilation.