Album release: ‘The Countries’ by Van William
Release date: 19 January 2018
Label: Fantasy Records / Concord Music
More info: Artist website
Just a couple years ago, Van William was a man with a plan. Having toured the world from age twenty – first with his band Port O’Brien, followed by his second group Waters – he had met and cultivated a tight knit community of fellow musicians, embarked on a serious, years-long romantic relationship, even found time to spend summers in the Kodiak Islands of Alaska working on his father’s commercial fishing boat, as he’d done all his life.
When, in short order, his musical projects and romantic relationship dissolved, and his father announced his retirement after 49 summers at sea, Van reached an inflection point. “I was freaked out”, the songwriter recalls, looking back on the most tumultuous year of his life. “But with that freak-out came a renewed sense of purpose” and a new musical direction, heralded by the arrival of ‘Countries’, Van’s vivid and open-hearted solo debut full length album, set for January 19 release on Fantasy Records / Concord Music. Stream / Share new album track ‘The Country’ via Soundcloud here.
Anchored in Van's love of melodic song craft and infused with melancholy, the eleven original songs on ‘Countries’ don't belong to any specific style. Call them American Heartache, music that stirs up forgotten memories and feels eternal and fresh, pulling the past into the present as a way of navigating considerable loss.
Van wrote the songs that would become ‘Countries’ in a secluded part of the Sierra Nevada, then enlisted a close-knit group of friends - including his co-producer Brian Phillips, Dawes drummer Griffin Goldsmith, Pop ETC bassist Chris Chu and keyboardist Tam Visher - to bring the album to life in a studio in Marin County. Special vocal guests on the album include the Soderberg sisters of First Aid Kit, Miya Folick, and Sara DaMert of Waters.
“These songs sound exactly like I feel” says Van, “restless, reeling, heartbroken and ready to burst. I grew up on Fugazi and Plastic Ono Band; The Lonesome Crowded West and On the Beach. I wanted to make a record that unambiguous, that digs its hooks in deep and doesn’t let go”.
‘Countries’ follows Van’s critically acclaimed ‘The Revolution EP’, released earlier this year which earned praise from NPR, Wild Honey Pie (“therapeutic and celebratory”) and others. The EP’s title track and video both feature Van’s longtime friends and collaborators First Aid Kit, who he’s set to support on an international tour starting in North America in January 2018. Before that Van will play a three-week residency at LA’s Moroccan Lounge, with special guests to be announced day-of-show each week. UK listings for the international support tour are below.
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