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Okkervil River’s Will Sheff approached Away like a solo record, collaborating with jazz, folk, and classical musicians. It contains the thrill of listening to a person take risks. Away is the first Okkervil River album without Okkervil River on it. Will Sheff’s backing band has been a revolving door for a while now, yet even as new faces came and went, they’d always conducted themselves as a real band, especially on the road, where their live shows remained as feverish as ever. But after a tumultuous few years marked by loss and even more lineup changes than usual, Sheff was left questioning whether he even wanted to continue the group. The frontman approached Away like a solo project, writing it on his own and cherry-picking session players to help him record. And as part of that new approach, Sheff turned his back on the frothy rock‘n’roll that had previously driven the band’s finest moments. To start, on Away, Sheff has said that he tried to avoid working with rock musicians. “I’m not as interested in rock‘n’roll as I used to be,” he said. “I don’t really think of this as rock.” And so for Away he went full Astral Weeks, stacking the deck with jazz, folk, and classical musicians, including members of the orchestral ensemble yMusicand Marissa Nadler, who lends harmony vocals throughout. Drummer Cully Symington is the only carryover from the last incarnation of Okkervil River, and from his featherlight, Connie Kay-esque brush work here, you’d never guess he’s the same guy who’s been drumming for Cursive for the last few years. It’s a touching album about moving on, about the satisfaction of leaving the past behind before it leaves you.