When word came down that Sufjan Stevens would be returning to his solo acoustic roots, there were many tears of joy and a little apprehension. Sufjan has been experimenting with some very different sounds and gotten into large, complex orchestrations—would he be able to transfer back to a stripped-down sound?

We get our first listen from the new album (Carrie & Lowell) today. “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross” tells the story of a drug addiction, with Sufjan’s vivid songwriting and gorgeous lyricism front and center. In short, he’s still got it: this song could have appeared on Michigan or Illinois without a second glance. His brand of meticulous arrangement has been unharmed—maybe even strengthened—in the time away from his folk roots.

Carrie and Lowell will be released March 31. You can watch an album trailer below:

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