In 2019, Okkervil River, the long-running project of singer-songwriter Will Sheff, launched A Dream in the Dark: Two Decades of Okkervil River, a digital subscription series of twelve live albums that spanned the band’s storied career. The best of the series were curated into a chronological 24-track compilation featuring performances captured from sweaty dive bars, lavish concerts halls, and festival stages across the world.
NPR once wrote, “Okkervil River doesn’t hold anything back: Its emotion-drenched performances are intense to the point of seeming overwrought, and its songs unfold like literature.” That impassioned live energy – something all music fans are missing in today’s pandemic world – is captured in these recordings, which feature songs from across Okkervil River’s catalog, from their 2002 debut Don’t Fall in Love with Everyone You See to their mid-2000s breakout albums Black Sheep Boy and The Stage Names and their most recent studio album, 2018’s In the Rainbow Rain. The tracks were mixed by Sheff and longtime Okkervil River engineer and producer Phil Palazzolo.
“I wanted it to be sleek and fun and satisfying, a complement to our studio albums,” says Sheff. “I wanted to include all the songs people always ask for live, but I went for versions that felt like exciting upgrades to the studio versions or drastically different approaches. Over the years, we’ve had a ton of fun re-imagining the songs completely and letting them breathe and mutate; I wanted to include a lot of that stuff since this felt like a rare opportunity to put more than one arrangement of my songs out into the streaming and vinyl universe. So in a way, this is like greatest hits and a rarities record that shows you a quite different side of the band than is on our albums.”