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A Beginner's Mind

by Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine

Released September 24, 2021 via Asthmatic Kitty

Reviewed October 11, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Back To Oz (64%), Reach Out (41%), You Give Death a Bad Name (31%)

Following a slew of electronic albums earlier this year, Sufjan Stevens releases A Beginner’s Mind, an indie folk collaboration with Angelo De Augustine. It’s much more stripped down and acoustic, so Sufjan’s penwork and vocals take center stage. Evidently, this choice paid off. The album sounds gorgeous, even reminiscent of Michigan and Illinois. While Stevens’ indietronica-centered albums like The Ascension are great in their own right, he’s naturally a winter breeze while singing over folkier instrumentation. Although not as complete as Carrie & Lowell, A Beginner’s Mind is a great album that displays Stevens’ skills as a singer/songwriter, and how pretty Angelo’s production sounds. – Alan (8.5/10)

A Beginner's Mind, the collaborative project of Asthmatic Kitty's Sufjan Stevens and Angelo de Augustine, plays out as a match made in heaven. Descending from above, the duo places the subtlest of divine touches upon your shoulder. Aesthetically serene and emotionally profound, A Beginner’s Mind ethereally comes to life with repeated listens. Melodies and harmonies make themselves known the deeper you dig into the sound palettes. Burrowing inwards, psyche bound, in soul-searching manifestation. 'I would rather be a flower than the ocean' sings Sufjan on album opener “Reach Out,” a humble and fitting ethos which sets the album's tone, and carries the material upon a soothing celestial plateau. This project is an absolute joy to slowly succumb to. – Peter (8/10)

The first collaborative effort from Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine is a welcome melding of new and old; Stevens is arguably the greatest indie folk artist ever, while De Augustine is one of the genre’s most exciting newcomers. In crafting A Beginner’s Mind, the two sought inspiration from a wide array of films—from Clash of the Titans to Silence of the Lambs—to carry out a number of tender and ethereal pieces. The two incredibly talented songwriters’ inspirations often take different forms, whether recounting similar themes of their inspirations or taking a more abstract approach. While this makes for an interesting concept, the beauty of A Beginner’s Mind is found more in its compositions and harmonies. Stevens and De Augustine display fairly similar vocal ranges, but De Augustine complements Stevens’ relatively lower cadences by reaching to higher octaves. Paired with exceptional layering, the duo manages to create a choir for a steeple of stellar compositions, whether psychedelic, unsettling, or soothing. – Dominick (7.8/10)

Peter: 8/10 | Dominick: 7.8/10 | DeVán: 7.7/10

Hadley: 7.5/10 | Jared: 7.5/10 | Cam: 7.3/10


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