A Beginner's Mind

A Beginner's Mind

A few years removed from his Oscar-nominated work on 2017’s Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens turns to film for inspiration on this collaborative concept LP with LA singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine. Working together in upstate New York, the two would watch a movie in the evening, then write a song in response the next morning, employing the sort of quiet arrangements and pristine melodies that mark their work as solo artists. It’s an ode to maintaining an open mind (or shoshin, the Zen Buddhist term whose English translation is the album’s title), Stevens and De Augustine as eager to engage with horror films and commercial blockbusters as they would artier fare—from All About Eve to Hellraiser III, Bring It On Again to Point Break and Wings of Desire. But whether they’re giving voice to The Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill (“Cimmerian Shade,” sung from the perspective of said serial killer) or exploring the power dynamics of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It (“It’s Your Own Body and Mind”), every song here sparkles and stands on its own. You don’t need to have seen any of the source material to fully appreciate it.

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