On our fifth album, Again, Somewhere, we’ve explored some different paths. “Shakespeare in the Park,” is the kind of huge, upbeat production step we’d like to compare, in some modest way, to the leap the Beatles and George Martin made with Rubber Soul and Revolver. It traces a contemporary “Shakespeare” who is a destroyer of lives, a nocturnal drug dealer. But it also draws on the strength of some real Shakespearean heroines.
“Gettysburg” is a reaction to the street slayings of young African-American men. “The Better Man” is a response to another death — this time Glen Campbell’s, and the magic he shared with songwriter Jimmy Webb. As such, it’s both a painful tribute and a song about hope, resilience, and recovery. “The Opposite Is True” and “What We’re Forgetting” are retro trips into unabashed pop. “The Great Stampede” is just an old-fashioned Byrds-style protest song about Orwellian group-thinking. And we end with an ambient guitar instrumental, this one “Deep Valley Hideaway,” that speaks to our need for escape — the pastoral dream, however elusive, always driving the best of Americana.
We’ve had a lot of time to think about our history, about our continuity as artists, and — most of all — about how fragile and precious we are as a musical and national community. Everything rides on whether and how we can truly hear one another’s voices, rather than mere echoes of our own.