Fleet Foxes’ New LP ‘Shore’ Features a Musical Homage to John Prine, Bill Withers, Elliott Smith & More (Listen)

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

On Tuesday morning, Shore, a new Fleet Foxes album was released — precisely at 9:31 a.m. ET/6:31 a.m. PT, coinciding with the autumnal equinox — and Shore is a powerful listen from start to finish, singer/songwriter Robin Pecknold crafting songs that carry the weight of human existence while also allowing Pecknold to pay tribute to some of the musical heroes that have shaped Pecknold’s career with his indie/folk band, now on its fourth record.

The album was made available on digital platforms Tuesday, with a physical release scheduled for Feb. 5, 2021 — click here to pre-order a copy from our Rock Cellar Store.

“Sunblind,” in particular, includes lyrics that act as a warm homage to some of the most beloved musicians that the world has lost, some recently and some not-so-recently, including John Prine, Bill Withers, Elliott Smith, Arthur Russell, Judee Sill and more:

For Richard Swift
For John and Bill
For every gift lifted far before its will
Judee and Smith
For Berman too
I’ve met the myth hanging heavy over you
I loved you long
You rose to go
Beneath you, songs, perfect angels in the snow
So time to stage
Forget reserve
The type of great coronation you deserve

Pecknold penned a lengthy statement that accompanies the album’s release, detailing his strong personal connection to the songs and moods explored on Shore, the fourth Fleet Foxes album and the first since 2017’s Crack-Up:

“I see “shore” as a place of safety on the edge of something uncertain, staring at Whitman’s waves reciting ‘death,’ tempted by the adventure of the unknown at the same time you are relishing the comfort of the stable ground beneath you. This was the mindset I found, the fuel I found, for making this album.” 

He continued:

“Since the unexpected success of the first Fleet Foxes album over a decade ago, I have spent more time than I’m happy to admit in a state of constant worry and anxiety. Worried about what I should make, how it will be received, worried about the moves of other artists, my place amongst them, worried about my singing voice and mental health on long tours. I’ve never let myself enjoy this process as much as I could, or as much as I should. I’ve been so lucky in so many ways in my life, so lucky to be born with the seeds of the talents I have cultivated and lucky to have had so many unreal experiences. Maybe with luck can come guilt sometimes. I know I’ve welcomed hardship wherever I could find it, real or imagined, as a way of subconsciously tempering all this unreal luck I’ve had. By February 2020, I was again consumed with worry and anxiety over this album and how I would finish it. But since March, with a pandemic spiraling out of control, living in a failed state, watching and participating in a rash of protests and marches against systemic injustice, most of my anxiety around the album disappeared. It just came to seem so small in comparison to what we were all experiencing together. In its place came a gratitude, a joy at having the time and resources to devote to making sound, and a different perspective on how important or not this music was in the grand scheme of things. Music is both the most inessential and the most essential thing. We don’t need music to live, but I couldn’t imagine life without it. It became a great gift to no longer carry any worry or anxiety around the album, in light of everything that is going on. A tour may not happen for a year, music careers may not be what they once were. So it may be, but music remains essential. This reframing was another stroke of unexpected luck I have been the undeserving recipient of. I was able to take the wheel completely and see the album through much better than I had imagined it, with help from so many incredible collaborators, safe and lucky in a new frame of mind.”

There’s also a film component to Shore, which was also shared Tuesday along with the album’s appearance on digital streaming platforms — an art piece filmed over a month’s span in Washington, Oregon and Western Idaho, using 16mm film.

“I listened to the album while driving, and observationally shot landscapes that I felt resonated with the music, yet also stood on their own,” explained Director Kersti Jan Werdal. “The film is intended to co-exist and engage with the album, rather than be in a direct and symbiotic relationship with it. The urban and narrative scenes interact with the more surreal landscapes, rather than sit in opposition of one another. My hope is that the film, much like the album does, reflects optimism and strength.”

Stream Shore below, via Spotify:

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