In The Rainbow Rain by Okkervil RiverRelease date: April 27, 2018
Label: ATO Records
Two ways to approach Will Sheff’s new Okkervil River album In the Rainbow Rain – accept the fact the guy is changing his concept(s), the way he looks at things and his musical approach to all of that or feel sorry that he is not feeling sorry anymore.
I guess so many people got used and probably loved his albums like Black Sheep Boy or the previous one Away. I did. But here’s the thing – people change, musicians do too and so does their approach and the music they come up with.
Instead of the often almost miserablist, almost folky approach of most of his releases, Sheff opts here fore some seemingly optimistic views and an almost Seventies California soft rock/soul, reviving the Fleetwood Mac/Doobie Brothers phase II axis in some way. Tracks like ‘Love Somebody’ might even bring him close to ‘standard’ charts territory.
Maybe, but probably not. The thing is, there’s always another meaning lurking behind with Sheff and he might have his tongue firmly in cheek here. Check ‘Don’t Move Back To LA’, for example. But then, let’s take the whole thing at face value, with two things of note. First of all, Sheff and his new Okkervill River lineup handle this music brilliantly, and second of all, and more important, there’s nothing wrong (actually, there’s a lot of good) in quality pop-oriented music. Check ‘Family Song’ or the introductory ‘Famous Trichotomies’ with its sleek ‘Waterloo Sunset’ quote near the end.
The thing is, liking a certain strand in somebody’s musical output, no matter how great it is (and Sheff’s previous output is nothing less than that) should not make us close our senses if there’s a new stance, a new approach, particularly if it is good, and In the Rainbow Rain is good. It is good for exactly what it is – an excellent (almost) cheerful pop/rock/soul album.