You might be one of the Sufjan Stevens fans who poo-pooed his electronic direction on 2010′s The Age of Adz. If so, get your shit together dude, that album rules. But “Julia” is the kind of threadbare acoustic ballad that can unite all the disparate Sufjan tribes, quietly recalling the boundless insularity of the best ’90s alternative jams.
Sufjan says he recently unearthed the cassette demo in an Adidas shoebox, and “Julia” refers to Julia Prinsep Jackson, Virginia Woolf’s mother and model for some pre-Raphaellite painters. Like it was written with his face pressed against a window pane, there’s a strong sense of longing throughout; he extends her name as long as he can each time, like he might never say it again, and follows with dreams of kissing and caresses. And because it’s a Sufjan Stevens song, the love is ensconced in its own fantasy land, where Native American princes bleed into the narrative.