After Michigan, Sufjan Stevens continues his series of concept albums about US states with Illinois. Referencing people, places and events, his always poetic lyrics revolve around Chicago, UFO sightings and tales about serial killers (‘John Wayne Grace Jr.’). Stevens tells his stories with an intimate singing voice, close to the microphone, but never breathy. Thereby creating the illusion of an elusive closeness, he appears as an authentic historian with the power to make everyone believe what he says. His musical pallet is as extensive as the anecdotes he narrates: piano, flute, trumpet, acoustic guitar, xylophone, strings – often it is Stevens himself playing the instruments. Illinois presents him both as an exceptionally talented songwriter and a truly skillful musician.