I Am Very Far - Okkervil River
I Am Very Far Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

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  • Summary: After serving as Roky Erickson's backup band on True Love Cast Out All Evil, the Texas-based band return with their self-produced sixth studio album of indie-folk.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. May 10, 2011
    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.
  2. May 9, 2011
    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.
  3. May 5, 2011
    Perhaps Okkervil River just think the most interesting music usually inhabits the grey areas, a theory I Am Very Far does a lot to support.
  4. Jun 21, 2011
    The Lou Reed-approved alt-country band's sixth album. [July 2011, p. 105]
  5. May 19, 2011
    The smooth shape of this album - there's no rising or falling action - and lack of a big concept won't replace 2005's Black Sheep Boy for diehard fans, just as the superior The Stand-Ins didn't in 2008. But Elvis Costello fans should holler.
  6. 70
    Part of the problem with I Am Very Far is that he's felt too much. It's impacting to the point of bruising.
  7. Jan 3, 2012
    While it is more realized than previous effort The Stand Ins, Okkervil River is showing potential for new direction more than they are showing versatility.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Jun 27, 2011
    I sometimes wonder about who among the consumer reviewers here makes his/her own music / tries / thinks about doing so / pretends that he she could if they wanted to, and then about the ratio of creative souls to short-sighted drones. I try to produce my own music because I like to do so. This music on the new Okkervil River album is both audacious and amazing. Even if the songs sucked, which they absolutely don't, the recording itself is fascinating as a sonic document. Moreover, I can't think of anything more punk that I have or have not heard this year. Imagine yourself in a garage with all your instruments in the red, and how stupid/silly/fun/cathartic it would all sound. Now imagine yourself opening up to every instrument in the book, making your own when necessary, and pushing every sound into the mix in an interesting, readable, fashion. If you are not bored already, knife your rock in the neck and that rock will pretend the air's easy. Expand
  2. Ste
    May 14, 2011
    It's fantastic to see a great band unafraid to develop their sound and leave familiar territory behind. It's not like Okkervil River's music has ever been stagnant, no two albums have had the same sound with the exception of 'The Stage Names' and 'The Stand Ins' both from the same recording session, but 'I am Very Far' is still a departure. Great songwriting has been a calling card of Okkervil River for as long as they've been around. Pushing forward into new soundscapes which deflect, for better or worse, from the immediacy of Will Sheff''s vocals and therefore from the songs lyrical content is a bold move but one that has paid off. Give the album a few listens and it's soon clear that the unparalleled songwriting is still there; the lyrics on I am Very Far are as good as any Sheff has ever put out, but here without the apparent narrative arc over the course of the album that we're used to from Okkervil River. That said, despite the absence of a clear concept as with Black Sheep Boy (which is being mentioned in every review), there is a lot going on in this album for fans of OR to pore over; the word "throat" appears in more than half of the songs on the album in some outstanding lines: "A slit throat makes a note like a raw winter wind. We were piled in the river with the rock and roll skinned." ..off the album opener..and:

    "Your throat, where it's exposed, looks like a crime, I'll sneak-up slow and whisper quiet. Your pretty face looks like an island rising from a sea that's slowly drying." -vintage Will Sheff in 'Your Past Life as a Blast' The first song in which "throat" doesn't figure mentions "torn breaths"; in the closing track "the ladies coughed and cried, "I don't want to be there when it's time", so don't think that this album is a collection of entirely unrelated songs, there is a lot going on here. The musical styles on the other hand are disparate and new to the Okkervil oeuvre. The music on 'I am Very Far' is lush, multi-layered and almost entirely upbeat, and makes for a rewarding close listen from the disco bass line in 'Piratess' to the slow burning Hanging from a Hit (almost superceding 'Your Past Life as a Blast' as my favourite track) to the driving 'Wake and Be Fine'. Although there is a distant echoey quality and ghostly backing vocal to several songs, almost every track has its own distinct sound, quite an achievement and something which might also explain the wide divergence in opinion on how well 'I am Very Far' works as an album. Noted for their outstanding live performances 'I am Very Far' appears more ready for the live show, with its enlarged sound and upbeat tempo, than anything they've done since barnstorming tracks like 'Westfall' off their major label debut 'Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See'. If Okkervil's performance on David Letterman last night is anything to go by, the upcoming tour is not to be missed. (Disclosure: I'm a rather devoted Okkervil River fan...)
  3. May 11, 2011
    This isn't the classic that Black Sheep Boy is. Although it is still essential to anyone who enjoyed their past records because what this is, is a mature effort by a band who know their sound. It has that strangeness of seeming very familiar but completely fresh at the same time. After your first listen you will probably remember 1 or 2 songs you like, then the next probably another 1 or 2 and as you listen and become accustomed with the melodies this record only gets better. Most importantly this record is a step in the right direction, surpassing both Stage Names and Stand Ins. Expand