Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
In 2002 Okkervil River front man and (brilliant) songwriter, Will Sheff said; “I believe you have to open yourself up to the possibility of making something that’s laughable. I don’t want to make safe art, conservative art, or tidy art – I want to make a mess.” With the release of I Am Very Far it is safe to say that Sheff and co. have made something of a “mess”: a mess of passion, loving, literate songwriting so deeply committed to the art of storytelling. It is perhaps Sheff’s near singular obsession with teetering on the edge of failure that makes him such a brilliant and prolific songwriter.
I Am Very Far is a test. It’s a challenge to long-time Okkervil River fans and newbies alike. Can you put aside every perception of expectation you have regarding Okkervil River and dismiss it because it’s all false. To fall back on old notions would be to fail, not just a flirtation with failure, but an utter dismissal of the stunning beauty of I Am Very Far. Instead, I Am Very Far is an orchestral, bombastic, folk treatise on death, longing, betrayal, love and a deep American longing for modern myths and mythical heroes.
‘The Valley’ is a surprising opener, oddly sexy – nearly music to fuck to… nearly. Aside from ‘The Valley,’ ‘White Shadow Waltz’ and ‘We Need a Myth’ are particularly incredible standouts. Standouts, sure, but by no means standalone great tracks; in a world of singles and one-offs a solid album is a rare treat. Call it alt-country, call it orchestral pop, call it an aluminum can – it doesn’t matter;I Am Very Far is easily the best album of 2011.
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