By Isabella Biedenharn
Updated April 03, 2015 at 04:25 PM EDT

From dreamy odes to flyover states to multidisc Christmas sets, the indie-folk darling is a master of the theme album. But this time around, the motif is Stevens’ private tragedy: the loss of his mother. He spins her failings into trembling lullabies (“When I was three, three, maybe four/She left us at that video store”) and his grief into pretty cascades of guitar. With its quiet meditations on mental illness, God, and death, Carrie is a hauntingly beautiful bummer. A–