|1. Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois|
|2. The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You're Gonna Have To Leave Now, Or, 'I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight...|
|3. Come On! Feel The Illinoise!: Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition/Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream|
|4. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.|
|6. A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good Reasons|
|7. Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!|
|8. One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' For The Pullman|
|10. Casimir Pulaski Day|
|11. To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament|
|12. The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts|
|13. Prairie Fire That Wanders About|
|14. A Conjunction Of Drones Simulating The Way In Which Sufjan Stevens Has An Existential Crisis In The Great Godfrey Maze|
|15. The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!|
|16. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!|
|17. Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell|
|18. In This Temple As In The Hearts Of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth|
|19. The Seer's Tower|
|20. The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders: Part I: The Great Frontier/Part II: Come To Me Only With Playthings Now|
See all 22 tracks on this disc
Stevens' skill as a composer of complex, emotionally-laden melodies is only increasing with time and practice, as is his ability to tap into the legends, triumphs and shames of a populace.
The album is a suite, designed to immerse the listener into the cultural identity of the place, and for that reason it is a shame to give any of the songs precedence over the others. However, if there is one song on this album that deserves special mention, it has to be "John Wayne Gacy", a truly chilling and heartbreaking piece that highlights Stevens' real gift: sympathy - for victim and aggressor alike. He uses simple words and a soaring, theremin-like vocal line to bridge the gap between horror and acceptance, exposing the good an evil that lies in every heart. It still brings me to tears even after repeated listens.
Once again, his gentle take on the Christian faith comes to the fore, but as in "Michigan" it is less a cloying tack-on than a simple and truthful expression of thankfulness the source of his immense creativity and hope. It can't help but leave the listener thinking that if everyone knew Sufjan's version of God, the world just might be an immeasurably better place.
I came away from "Illinoise" with a renewed sense of faith -- in Sufjan himself. If he continues as strongly down this path he's set for himself we may be seeing the emergence of a true American musical genius, an unflinching Chronicler-in-Chief of the nation's dreams, crimes and acheivements.
I live in hope!