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Arthur Russell came from the cornfields of Oskaloosa, Iowa, a quiet kid who checked out library books on minimalism and psychedelics before running away to a San Francisco commune with his cello and his curiosity. In New York City during the 1970s and ’80s, Russell became a kaleidoscope of Downtown: a prism through which to see almost every fascinating corner of music there illuminated anew. His shyness became a strength, the source of his exquisite introspection, as he created serene music—lovelorn folk-pop, post-disco, classical, power pop—in accordance with his Buddhist logic, borderless.

Iowa Dream is the latest posthumous Russell release, and it feels in some ways like one of the truest. Unlike the understated beats and pop deconstructions of Calling Out of Context, or the plainspoken country-pop of Love Is Overtaking Me, the 19 tracks of Iowa Dream are presented as demos. But like those warm records, Iowa Dream finds Russell in his singularly comforting singer-songwriter mode: a collection of teardrop piano ballads, sunstruck acoustic songs, and delightfully bewildering studio excursions. As ever, it’s Russell’s voice—clear, graceful, often conversational, with a kind of humility—that makes his music feel like a potential source of enlightenment, no matter the style.