In what feels like a release that’s just kind of snuck up on us, American folk act Okkervil River have released a new single and announced that a LP is going to follow later this year.
The album, titled Away is the Will Sheff-fronted band’s first full length offering since 2013. It boasts a pretty hefty list of collaborators which includes yMusic, the New York-based classical music ensemble that’s worked with (among others) Jose Gonzales, St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens.
Speaking on the album, Sheff said that he wasn’t sure initially if it was going to be an Okkervil River album – let alone one he ever actually released. The songs were written during a transitional person in both his professional and personal lives. Members of the backing band had moved on to other things and Sheff also spent much of his time in his grandafther’s, who he describes as having been his idol, company in hospice until he died.
“2013-2015 had been a strange time for me. I lost some connections in a music industry that was visibly falling apart. Some members of the Okkervil River backing band left, moving on to family life or to their own projects… I felt like I didn’t know where I belonged.
“It was thanks to the offer from a friend to use her empty house in the Catskills that saw him able to make sense of his new reality and turn it into music. “New songs were coming fast up there, so I set myself the challenge of trying to write as many as possible as quickly as possible… Eventually, I realised I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new.”
The first single and lead track off the album, Okkervil River R.I.P., is pretty reflective of all those things and Sheff adds that it is perhaps one of the best “emotional transcriptions of that time” on the album. The album itself is only nine tracks long, and Sheff says that it “was the easiest and most natural record I’ve ever made. More than any time in my life before, I felt guided by intuition… It’s not really an Okkervil River album and it’s also my favorite Okkervil River album.”
You can listen to Okkervil River R.I.P, a near seven-minute, intimately fragile piece of music, on SoundCloud ahead of the album’s release on September 9th.
1. Okkervil River R.I.P.
2. Call Yourself Renee
3. The Industry
4. Comes Indiana Through the Smoke
5. Judey on a Street
6. She Would Look for Me
7. Mary on a Wave
8. Frontman in Heaven
9. Days Spent Floating (in the Halfbetween)