Okkervil River


(ATO Records); Folk/Roots

By ​Phil ​Bennett

On this, their eighth album, Will Sheff and his reshuffled outfit, once again demonstrate their skills at creating music that explores interesting sonic territories, in this case, with modern songs in old school pastoral settings.

Opening with a plangent examination of the band itself, Okkervil River RIP, the autumnal, slightly chilly scene is set right from the opening.

There’s a pervading sense of melancholic loss running through this album, a feeling brought to the fore by the quietly passionate intensity of Sheff’s vocal delivery.

It’s there in the beautifully articulate paean to his dying grandfather on the spectral Comes Indiana Through The Smoke and it’s there in the drifting protagonist sauntering through Call Yourself Renee.

A seamless combination of fluid playing, pleasing textures and pretty melodies, Away is a highly accomplished, well-rounded piece of work that covers matters both personal and universal with understanding and a gentle touch.

With just enough gossamer such as the swirling strings and music box piano of Judy On A Street to offset the lightly unpolished production ethic, the sound on these recordings is warm and inviting, with the right amount of rough edge to keep things real.

Despite its distancing title, it’s an album that really sails quite close to the bone and appears to be one of shelf’s most deeply self-examining works yet.


​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.