Release date: May 2011
I Am Very Far is the sixth album by Okkervil River, released on May 10, 2011. It is their first album since the 2008 release of The Stand Ins and their 2010 collaboration with Roky Erickson. 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 ('Rider', '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."