Okkervil River – Away (album review)

by Woody on September 7, 2016


My favorite Okkervil tunes are the ones where it feels like the words are dragged from Will Sheff’s mouth. It gives the feeling that whatever emotion he’s dealing with is just too much to handle at that juncture.

The lead single, Okkervil River R.I.P, is exactly that and it is firmly entrenched in the pantheon of great Okkervil tunes. The mid-tempo tune finds Sheff at the crossroads of life, contemplating where he’s been and where he’s going. While I enjoy artists that sing of their struggles in their 20s and all that encompasses; Sheff’s open book about breaking shit down and moving on, that says, “Well, now what?” really hit home for me as I ease into my late 40s. Name-dropping his

After binging on that tune for a week, my anticipation was cresting as I received the album download. And I was duly rewarded. Away is my favorite Okkervil album since The Stage Names. My new favorite track, The Industry is no-holds account of the non-stop avalanche of bullshit that musicians need to deal with to survive. My favorite verse is

I thought I had a bunch of friends, I guess
I just had people pissed at me for shit
And the cheaper that the music starts to get
It’s like they’re trying to make us cheap along with it

Days Spent Floating (in the Halfbetween) is absolute genius. For a month Sheff jotted down the first sentence that popped into his mind. From there, they knocked it out in one take at the end of their recording sessions. Intentional or not, it does seem to do a great job of capturing my perceived interpretation Sheff’s mindset at the time – one of rebirth but without any happy ending or any ending at all for that matter. Due to the quick-fire approach of the recording, it will be interesting to see this tune take on a life of its own during the live performance.

I am an unabashed Will Sheff and Okkervil fan. Away stands among his best work and is one of the best albums of 2016.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Okkervil River is here

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