Marine Life by Will GraefeRelease date: April 30, 2021
Label: 11A Records
Wistful times certainly can produce some truly wistful music, particularly if some personal challenges add up to the outpouring of melancholy that ensues.
Not that guitarist, singer/songwriter Will Graefe hasn’t already come up with such music before, After all, he is one of the key members of Okkervil River, who can account for their fair share of wistfulness. But, Marine Life, Graefe’s latest solo outing, is actually a perfect exercise in how to turn personal melancholy (breakup of a relationship) into some truly good music.
Here, Graefe relies on some psych-tinged songwriting, more than on the Americana strands Okkervil River is known for, although traces of CSN&Y harmony are evident on songs like ‘Green and Gold’. In a way, Graefe sounds like a current version of Eliot Smith laced in psychedelia.
The other element that shines is Graefe’s excellent guitar skills, delicate and intricate without show-offs (check the sound of his acoustic guitar(s) on ‘Dead Reckoner’). No wonder he is also renowned as an in-demand session guitarist.
But, it is Graefe’s songwriting that is the key element on Marine Life, along with the fact that the album is a fully-fledged solo project, making most of the sounds here himself.
“It was an interesting challenge for me to delve into engineering fully while also keeping the focus on the songs,” Graefe says. “I’m used to being a collaborator and greatly value that dialogue. But it became a reality that it was the only way this album was going to happen.
It turns out that no matter how you might get the impression that Marine Life sounds like something so familiar, it turns out to be a very personal and individual album with a sound all its own.