Seven Swans

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Seven Swans
Seven Swans album cover - Sufjan Stevens.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 16, 2004 (2004-03-16)
GenreIndie folk[1]
LabelSounds Familyre (original release)
Asthmatic Kitty (2016 reissue)
ProducerDaniel Smith
Sufjan Stevens chronology
Seven Swans
Singles from Seven Swans
  1. "The Dress Looks Nice on You"
    Released: March 8, 2004

Seven Swans is a folk rock music album by Sufjan Stevens, released on March 16, 2004 on Sounds Familyre Records. It is Stevens' fourth studio album and features songs about Christian spiritual themes, figures such as Abraham, and Christ's Transfiguration.[2][3] The songs are primarily "lush acoustic compositions" with Stevens' banjo.[2] It was recorded and produced by Daniel C. Smith, Sufjan's close friend. The album was released on compact disc by Sounds Familyre Records and vinyl LP; the vinyl was released by Burnt Toast Vinyl.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Drowned in Sound8/10[6]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[7]
The Guardian[8]
Rolling Stone[11]

Seven Swans has a score of 87 out of 100 based on 23 reviews at Metacritic, indicating a "universal acclaim" rating from the site.[4] The Guardian called it "a record of remarkable delicacy"[8] and Spin described the album as sounding "like Elliott Smith after ten years of Sunday school".[12] In December 2004, American webzine Somewhere Cold ranked Seven Swans No. 3 on their 2004 Somewhere Cold Awards Hall of Fame list.[14]

Thematic elements[edit]

Many of the songs on Seven Swans tell stories directly from the Bible. "Abraham" references the bible story wherein Abraham is tested by God and told to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Abraham, at the last moment and with knife in hand, is stopped by an angel and instead sacrifices a ram to God. The final song, "Transfiguration", is a "bittersweet note of Jesus' requisite suffering".[2] "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" is based on a first-person account by The Misfit character from Flannery O'Connor short story of the same name.[2] The lyrics of the title song, "Seven Swans," loosely allude to the events of the Book of Revelation.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Sufjan Stevens.

  1. "All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands" – 4:14
  2. "The Dress Looks Nice on You" – 2:32
  3. "In the Devil's Territory" – 4:57
  4. "To Be Alone with You" – 2:44
  5. "Abraham" – 2:33
  6. "Sister" – 6:00
  7. "Size Too Small" – 3:04
  8. "We Won't Need Legs to Stand" – 2:12
  9. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" – 3:16
  10. "He Woke Me Up Again" – 2:43
  11. "Seven Swans" – 6:33
  12. "The Transfiguration" – 5:18

Bonus 7"

  1. "I Went Dancing with My Sister"
  2. "Waste of What Your Kids Won't Have"


Seven Swans Reimagined[edit]

Seven Swans Reimagined
Seven Swans Reimagined cover art
Remix album by
ReleasedMarch 29, 2011 (2011-03-29)
LabelOn Joyful Wings

In 2011 a cover album reimagining the songs from Seven Swans was released. Many of the artists featured on this album had worked with Stevens in the past.[15][16]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Sufjan Stevens.

1."All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands"Bonnie "Prince" Billy5:24
2."The Dress Looks Nice on You"The Gregory Brothers2:20
3."In the Devil’s Territory"Derek Webb4:25
4."To Be Alone with You"Joshua James3:32
5."Abraham"Denison Witmer, Devin Greenwood & Caithlin De Marrais3:07
6."Sister"Unwed Sailor6:06
7."Size Too Small"Wakey!Wakey!3:36
8."We Won’t Need Legs to Stand"Elin K. Smith3:34
9."A Good Man is Hard to Find"DM Stith3:29
10."He Woke Me Up Again"Half-Handed Cloud1:52
11."Seven Swans"Carl Hauck5:27
12."The Transfiguration"David Crowder*Band5:27
13."I Went Dancing With My Sister"Jason Harrod4:42
14."Waste of What Your Kids Won’t Have" (with Gregory Paul)Shannon Stephens5:02
Total length:60:52

"The Dress Looks Nice on You"[edit]

"The Dress Looks Nice on You"
Single by Sufjan Stevens
from the album Seven Swans
A-side"The Dress Looks Nice on You"
ReleasedMarch 8, 2004 (2004-03-08)
LabelRough Trade
Songwriter(s)Sufjan Stevens
Producer(s)Daniel Smith
Sufjan Stevens singles chronology
"The Dress Looks Nice on You"
"I Walked"

A 7" limited edition single of "The Dress Looks Nice on You" was released by Rough Trade in support of the album on March 8, 2004. The single features the song "Borderline" as a B-side.

  1. "The Dress Looks Nice on You"  – 2:32
  2. "Borderline"  – 3:25


  1. ^ "Sufjan Stevens All Delighted People". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sylvester, Nick (March 16, 2004). "Sufjan Stevens: Seven Swans". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  3. ^ Farias, Andree,"Seven Swans" The Fish, October 26, 2010
  4. ^ a b "Reviews for Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  5. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Seven Swans – Sufjan Stevens". AllMusic. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  6. ^ Hayward, Daniel (May 11, 2004). "Album Review: Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Weingarten, Marc (March 19, 2004). "Seven Swans". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Peschek, David (March 26, 2004). "Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans". The Guardian. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  9. ^ "Sufjan Stevens: Seven Swans". Mojo (126): 105. May 2004.
  10. ^ "Sufjan Stevens: Seven Swans". Q (214): 108. May 2004.
  11. ^ Gensler, Andy (April 29, 2004). "Sufjan Stevens: Seven Swans". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Breakdown". Spin. 20 (5): 108. May 2004. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "Songs Of Praise". Uncut (83): 92. April 2004. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  14. ^ Lamoreaux, Jason T. (December 1, 2004). "Somewhere Cold Awards 2004". Somewhere Cold. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  15. ^ Ryden, Brent (2011-03-29). "Review: Various Artists, 'Seven Swans Reimagined'". Cover Me. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  16. ^ "Seven Swans Reimagined". On Joyful Wings. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2020-05-08.

External links[edit]