Review: Seven Swans Reimagined

Thanks to an eclectic list of indie artists and a solid forerunner, Seven Swans Reimagined is a successful and innovative heritage piece—even though Sufjan Stevens’ original album was only released six years ago.

Released earlier this spring by the On Joyful Wings label, Seven Swans Reimagined is a beautiful interpretation of Stevens’ 2004 record. Produced with the intent to stay true to the solemn heart of the original, the album still incorporates new elements and musical nuances. This makes each of the fifteen tracks sound unique while still retaining a connection to its roots.

The 2004 forerunner was ethereal in a back-country framework, featuring many banjo-esque, folk-driven songs. But this recent interpretation is mostly free of banjo, instead pulling in layers of electronic music, creating an urban-folk undertone.

The piano is a welcome addition to the musical landscape on Joshua James’ cover of “To Be Alone With You,” and Wakey!Wakey!’s “Size Too Small.” Elin K. Smith’s “We Won’t Need Legs to Stand” has an eerie Rocky Horror Picture Show feel to it, while Derek Webb offers a synth-pop presence in the track “In the Devil’s Territory.”

Because of the multitude of contributors, Seven Swans Reimagined is also a great mixtape for discovering new-to-you artists. And as an added bonus, all profits from the record will go toward Komen for the Cure—a foundation dedicated to Breast Cancer research and awareness.

Seven Swans Reimagined is a picture of how we can stay true to heritage while being creative in our communication to diverse cultures.

In many churches today the arts are an afterthought at best and forbidden at worst. This insightful book takes you beyond "how we've always done it," to develop a vision for the place of the arts—and artists—in our churches.