|I Am Very Far|
Cover Art by William Schaff
|Studio album by|
|Released||May 10, 2011|
|Genre||Indie rock, Folk rock|
|Okkervil River chronology|
|Singles from I Am Very Far|
I Am Very Far is the sixth album by Okkervil River, released on May 10, 2011. It was produced primarily in Austin, Connecticut and Brooklyn by lead singer Will Sheff with John Congleton and Phil Palazzolo.
I Am Very Far marked a distinct break from the polished, hyper-literary folk-rock that Okkervil River had explored on their previous two albums, The Stage Names and The Stand Ins. In the words of songwriter Will Sheff, "I found myself wanting to not be accessible and not be crowd pleasing and basically be self-pleasing and follow what I thought was really interesting." This is the first Okkervil River album that Sheff produced, following his production of Roky Erickson's 2010 album True Love Cast Out All Evil. From this experience, Sheff attests to gaining "a kind of chaotic, powerful energy that swirls around Roky that I started to feel infecting my own writing and my own sonic ideas and desires."
In studio, the band experimented with various recording methods in each session, including fastforwarding and rewinding a cassette tape and then doubling the noises on electric guitar, tearing off strips of duct tape for percussion, singing while strolling around the room, and hurling file-cabinets across the studio. Some songs had input from a vast number of session musicians playing in the same room, such as "Rider" or "We Need a Myth," the latter of which opens with the strumming of 45 classical guitars.
Lyrically, I Am Very Far is also a sharp departure from their previous work. Whereas previous albums were often composed of highly literate takes on rock legends and tropes, this album's lyrics tend to portray dark and indistinct dreamscapes. Sheff explained that "interiority is a really important thing to me, and a lot of this record did come from a subconscious, unconscious place, and I wanted it to respond to that corresponding place in listeners... I wanted it to really feel like it was operating on a subterranean level."
|The A.V. Club||(A-)|
|Drowned in Sound||(9/10)|
|Under the Radar|||
Sputnikmusic wrote "I Am Very Far is certainly a more enthralling listen than The Stand Ins was; though it may lack some of the emotional impact of Down the River of Golden Dreams, or especially Black Sheep Boy, the album remains a welcomed addition into the work of a band who commands great quality-control." Jim Scott of Under the Radar called the album "...one of the best records of the year," writing "I Am Very Far makes a strong case for Sheff to be considered one of the very best writers in music today." Scott concluded: "...looking at this stretch of recordings with such a finite lens is doing them a disservice: this is music to cherish forever." Some reviewers praised the band for pursuing a new sound on the album, with Erik Adams of The A.V. Club writing "It's no longer the Okkervil River of The Stage Names or Black Sheep Boy, and that's a plus: I Am Very Far signals that the band's gifts with song and sentiment were never tied to specificity."Slant Magazine's Jaymie Baxley also gave the album a positive review, writing "Fans who approach I Am Very Far carrying expectations informed by the group's earlier releases will no doubt find this to be Okkervil River's most challenging work to date, but it's also the group's most grandiose, thrilling, and brilliant."
Tiny Mix Tapes, on the other hand, was less receptive to the band's new sound, writing "But rather than serve as a radical departure for Okkervil River, I Am Very Far treads familiar ground with a superficial extroversion that can't match the emotional particularity of the rest of the band's back catalog." In another mixed review, Philip Cosores of One Thirty BPM called I Am Very Far Okkervil River's "...weakest album to date." Cosores continued: "I Am Very Far is often a noisy album, seeming experimental, but ultimately just poorly edited, with the songs overly busy and taking the focus away from the songwriting and lyrics that are Sheff's strengths."
All tracks written by Will Sheff.
|4.||"Lay of the Last Survivor"||3:51|
|5.||"White Shadow Waltz"||4:26|
|6.||"We Need a Myth"||4:38|
|7.||"Hanging from a Hit"||5:16|
|9.||"Your Past Life as a Blast"||5:32|
|10.||"Wake and Be Fine"||3:25|
The following people contributed to I Am Very Far:
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||23|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||51|
|UK Albums (OCC)||66|
|US Billboard 200||32|
|US Independent Albums (Billboard)||5|
|US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)||6|
|US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)||10|
|US Top Tastemaker Albums (Billboard)||8|