Okkervil River - Black Sheep Box

The crisp and flowing vocals of Will Sheff give this dreamy and poetic offering an earnest feel. The yearning and damning blues tainted; ‘A Stone’ sees Sheff stoically proclaiming that love is hurtful and painstaking at times.  The power of dreams is scrutinised deeper than a Freudian die hard would do by way of nifty number; ‘In A Radio Song’. This is done by incorporating a soft and tingling piano introduction, before Sheff’s Aqualung meets Damien Rice vocals and twanging acoustic element demonstrate darkly and poetically bedtime dangers;

 “We're fucked, We're fucked, We're fucked. I rose from a dream;
     I had just destroyed everything with one crushing blow,
    and I woke up and I watched it go, and I woke up and wagged my tongue.
    So long, so long, so long."

Instrumental diversity that incorporates the utilisation of a variety of effects, carefully extracted from equipment as varied as children’s keyboards and distorted guitars to a pump organ and a Wurlitzer is apparent and appealing. Thus helping to glide through a variety of genres from dark, yet warming indie/pop in ‘Black’ to folk/country in ‘Get Big’ and sprightly power pop in ‘The Latest Toughs’.

Trickles of Clem Snide, Idlewild, Tom McRae and Hall & Oates run through this offering of brave and thought provoking New Hampshire music to make for wavy journey of emotion and unrest. This journey is elongated by the bleak, despairing and insightful 7 minute plus maudlin marathon that is ‘So Come Back, I Am Waiting’. This fourth album shows that some seemingly still rivers really do run deep.

David Adair

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