Don’t panic. ‘Okkervil River RIP’ is not a signal that Will Sheff’s flat-out brilliant project is over. ‘Okkervil River RIP’ is instead the first track taken from forthcoming album Away, due September 9, and a sign they are very much ALIVE. But it also serves as fair warning that Away is going to tug on your heartstrings, and might just break a few. Plenty has changed since 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium. As his band members one-by-one headed off to do different things, Sheff could be forgiven for barely noticing. “I spent a good deal of time sitting in hospice with my grandfather, who was my idol, while he died,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t know where I belonged.” He found an outlet in a friend’s empty house in the Catskills, heading there to write music. “New songs were coming fast up there, so I set myself the challenge of trying to write as many as possible as quickly as possible,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about any kind of end product; the idea was just to write through what I was feeling, quickly and directly. Eventually, I realized I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new.” Sheff assembled a new band, called in Marissa Nadler to contribute some vocals, asked Nathan Thatcher to write orchestral arrangements, and got Jonathan Wilson to help mix it all. We can’t wait to hear more.