Okkervill River: I Am Very Far (Jajaguwar)

 |   |  <1 min read

Okkervil River: Rider
Okkervill River: I Am Very Far (Jajaguwar)

The last appearance of Texas' Okkervil River was them providing emotional support and the musical context for damaged cult figure Roky Erickson on his exceptional, moving True Love Cast Out All Evil.

Their singer/songwriter Will Sheff is one of the smartest around (he writes the most extraordinary and emotionally insightful ballads) and has a keen sense of pop history which he draws on but adapts for his own purposes.

So while this one knocks off a bit of Springsteen's stadium bombast (Rider), a touch of string-stabbed blues-pop crunch (The Valley) and piano-hammered ELO-like pop (White Shadow Waltz) for attention-grabbing effect, it is in material like the quivering, melodically gorgeous, sensitively arranged ballad Lay of the Last Survivor, the desperate, reaching melodrama of We Need a Myth and slowly unveiling widescreen pop of Your Past Life as Blast where this really pulls you close.

Sometimes the clever-clogs embellishments (the electro-squiggles on Piratess, too much with the strings in places) detract from the raw material and the oddly Celtic Hanging from a Hit is an earnestly portentous plodder.

As always, Sheff writes songs you want to hear but with a cast of two dozen players this takes their open-hearted inclusiveness a bit far and sinks the lesser material. You might prefer to hear half of this in an unplugged session.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Various: The Future is Unwritten/Joe Strummer (Sony)

Various: The Future is Unwritten/Joe Strummer (Sony)

True story. Earlier this year after a classical concert in Auckland's Aotea Centre I was introduced to a guy who, in the course of a free-ranging conversation, said he'd met Joe Strummer -- and Joe... > Read more

Noah Aire: Shine Brightest in the Dark (Distinction)

Noah Aire: Shine Brightest in the Dark (Distinction)

Nigerian singer-writer and engineer/mixer here steps out with slightly dark and brooding “mixtape” debut album which however manages to bring together electro-pop, serious soul,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

SEB ROCHFORD OF POLAR BEAR INTERVIEWED (2010): Always give a job to a busy man

SEB ROCHFORD OF POLAR BEAR INTERVIEWED (2010): Always give a job to a busy man

For a man who can make a big noise and very often, drummer Seb Rochford of the innovative UK jazz quartet Polar Bear (and many other side-projects) is very quietly spoken. It is 10.30am and... > Read more

Portland, Oregon: A light in the window

Portland, Oregon: A light in the window

Dusk was dropping into night when I saw her. She was on the corner of North Russell and Mississippi in an industrial area of Portland, Oregon. She looked old and slightly painted up when I spotted... > Read more