In his fifth solo studio effort and Vagrant Records debut, Pete Yorn peels away the baroque orchestrations of his critically acclaimed previous work to expose a beating rock 'n' roll heart. Much of the eponymous album's remarkable raw power comes courtesy of producer Frank Black, who in 2008 invited Yorn up to a Salem, Oregon studio for some spontaneous sessions. The result is exuberant and edgy, with songs like "The Chase" and the album-opening "Precious Stone" ringing out loud and strong with chiming guitars, soaring harmonies, and Yorn's soul-wrenchingly wrecked vocals. "It just makes me want to put my fist in the air," Yorn says of the new album. "There's something about it that's really empowering."
Having had little personal interaction other than a few calls and e-mails, the two musicians met up in Yorn's hotel room to discuss material and aesthetics. Black's idea was to strip Yorn's atmospheric pop sound down to its bare bones, to create something more plainspoken than the carefully orchestrated arrangements of his prior work.
Songs like "Future Life" and "Rock Crowd" are striking in their electric ebullience, especially in contrast to the darker songcraft featured on his previously released, Back & Fourth. Yorn suggests that while the character singing the "somber" songs on that album is "coming from a more remorseful, nostalgic place, the person singing the songs on this record is in a way better place. He's more empowered, he's not worried about the past, he's looking forward and he's like, 'Let's go.' It's a totally different stance."
That forward-looking approach could well define Yorn's own recent prolificacy. Pete Yorn marks his third release in just over a year, following his two acclaimed 2009 releases, Back & Fourth and Break Up, a musical alliance with Scarlett Johansson inspired by the classic duet recordings of Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot (which was, in fact, recorded back in 2006). But the triumphant rock 'n' roll of Pete Yorn stands as the clearest distillation thus far of a restless creative spirit that simply can't be contained. Where Pete Yorn goes from here is anyone's guess, least of all his own.
"My attention to something runs high and then all of a sudden I'm into something else," he says. "That's part of why I put out three records in a year and they're all so different sounding. I have to mix it up to stay inspired."
100% of the net proceeds from this event to benefit: Fixing Instruments for Kids in Schools, Church Street School for Music & Art, The Pinwheel Project, Music Unites, The American Symphony Orchestra and Young Audiences New York.