Queer artist Sufjan Stevens navigates grief, love and loss in new album Javelin

David Ferguson introduces the new album Javelin by Sufjan Stevens and reveals the effects of the musician's personal life.

The image shows a split screen of a graphic portrait of Sufjan Stevens and the cover of his new album. The portrait is a headshot of Stevens looking upwards. It is overlaid on a collage of coloured paper. The album cover is a collage of multiple headshots of Stevens and others with the word
Image: @asthmatickittyrecords via Instagram

Following the release of the new album Javelin by Sufjan Stevens, David Ferguson reflects on how the passing of the singer’s partner impacted his work. 

I have been following the work of Sufjan Stevens since his 2005 album Come on Feel the Illinoise. It was his fifth studio album but was his most successful at that time, and the single ‘Chicago’ got a lot of airplay on Irish radio. (People may remember the track featured in the soundtrack for Little Miss Sunshine). 

I always keep an ear out for new stuff from him, so the release of his new album, Javelin, last month was a nice surprise. 

The news of Javelin caused extra surprise, however, as Stevens – up to now a very private person – dedicated it to his partner, Evans Richardson, who passed away in April 2023, resulting in the musician coming out in the process.

Richardson was the former chief of staff at the Studio Museum in Harlem and chaired the American Alliance of Museums Accreditation Commission. He was dedicated to promoting diverse artistic voices and advancing cultural understanding. 



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The couple attended the 2018 Oscars together after Stevens was nominated for his song ‘Mystery Of Love’, which featured on the soundtrack to Call Me By Your Name

The singer-songwriter had been asked to narrate the film but declined. He did, however, contribute three songs for the soundtrack inspired by the script, the book and conversations with the director. 

In another personal update, the musician revealed in September that he would be unable to promote Javelin as he was experiencing health issues caused by Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Thankfully, he received an early diagnosis, and doctors were able to administer medical intervention. Since then, he has been providing regular updates on his recovery via social media. 



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Javelin is the tenth studio album by Sufjan Stevens and sees him return to singer-songwriter mode. 

It is a very personal album as he navigates grief, faith, love and loss, and is evidently an ode to Richardson. 

In the song ‘My Red Little Fox’, he appears to sing directly to him. The chorus reads:
“My love, my queen, my broken dreams, come save me.
Kiss me like the wind.
Now I sing it, won’t you kiss me from within?
Now I sing it, won’t you kiss me like the wind that flows within your veins?”

Whilst being deeply personal, Javelin is, at the same time, universal. It is a beautiful and well-crafted work and, in my opinion, highly recommended listening.

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