Okkervil River: I Am Very Far
Okkervil River pushes forth with a new album, I Am Very Far, and with it, a new layer emerges from a band whose originality has always walked a distinct, characterizing line, but has managed to evolve and innovate with each new piece of work. Like the mixologist whose creations are blended without measuring because the recipes have lovingly become second nature – a dash of bitters here, a squirt of lime there – the same formula can yield extraordinary results with the addition of a few new top-notch ingredients. Staid and true are the band’s signature, poetic commentaries on characters, real or imagined, narrated by Will Sheff’s plush, expressive voice that vacillates between expansive and subdued – not just throughout the album, but oftentimes on the same song, lending an authentic, emotional presence to each track. Sheff’s lyrics are, in a word, beautiful. He’s mastered plucking an individual feeling and funneling it into tender, alliterative words and sweet instruments so complimentary that one marvels at the balance the band strikes on with each forthcoming album.
This album has taken those ear-friendly chords of The Stand Ins and tweaked them slightly – still friendly, but with an added depth. If The Stand Ins was a smile, I Am Very Far is the same smile, but above it there hovers a single solitary tear.