Passionate folk-rock meets nature
If you find yourself lamenting the loss of James Meiburg from Okkervil River, look no further than Shearwater to get your fix of his passionate, nature-loving vocals. In fact, now that Meiburg focuses his full attention on Shearwater with the band’s latest offering, Animal Joy, he creates a perfect amalgam between Okkervil’s rock sensibility and Shearwater’s use of orchestral arrangements.
As with Shearwater’s previous works, Meiburg’s distinctive voice commands attention on every track. For some bands, the singer’s dominance completely overpowers the actual music. However, the intricate melodies Shearwater creates weave in and around Meiburg’s voice and work together – making his voice become an extra instrument. Lyrically, the band’s use of natural imagery comes across as music’s answer to Thoreau’s “Walden Pond.”
Animal Joy is a perfect balance of rock and folk. Tracks like “Dread Sovereign,” “Insolence” and “Believing Makes it Easy” are interspersed with much more upbeat tunes like “Animal Joy,” “You as You Were” and “Immaculate.” This meticulous crafting of arrangements is reminiscent of Arcade Fire in their ability to create the right amount of tension while building anticipation for the crescendo. Coming off the heels of their ambitious, concept albums in the Island Arc trilogy, Animal Joy is a welcome throwback to Shearwater’s folk rock roots.