Premiere: Will Graefe Shares New Single “Dead Reckoner” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, November 29th, 2023  

Premiere: Will Graefe Shares New Single “Dead Reckoner”

Marine Life Due Out April 30 on 11A Records

Apr 13, 2021 Photography by Annette Wong
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Best known as a member of Okkervil River and a prolific sideman and session guitarist, Brooklyn-based musician Will Graefe quietly made his solo debut with a tape release in 2017. In recent months Graefe has followed even deeper into his solo work, crafting the songs that make up his upcoming full-length debut record, Marine Life. Born in the wake of a crushing breakup, Graefe poured his feelings into his suite of intimate psychedelic indie pop creations, writing on his own during lockdown and refining them further with a set of longtime collaborators including his Okkervil River bandmates Will Sheff and Benjamin Lazar Davis.

Graefe has already shared “Coral Court Motel” and “Almost Morning” from the record and has now once again returned with a new single “Dead Reckoner,” premiering with Under the Radar.

“Dead Reckoner” beautifully shows the central allure of Marine Life: Graefe’s floating vocals, delicate guitar playing, and entrancing melodicism. Graefe sings over pillowy instrumentation, untethered and floating but grounded by the track’s earthen acoustic tones. In the lyrics, Graefe describes being deeply lost, searching for any bit of familiarity to orient himself and the instrumentation mirrors that same oppressively dark element, sinking deep into the track’s despondent melody. Graefe subtly recreates the same lostness that the album was written in, placing the listener in the midst of Graefe’s own lowest longing moments.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River, who co-wrote the tune with Graefe, says of the track: Will and I started writing songs together for the last Okkervil River album In the Rainbow Rain, and we’ve done a lot of really rewarding writing together since then. There’s something so evocative and elemental about the music Will pulls out of the ether, and it tends to inspire and push me to places I don’t always go otherwise. We also bond a lot about the natural landscapes and the spooky ambience of New England, where we both grew up and which his music really calls to mind for me.”

“I hear a lot of that in ‘Dead Reckoner,’ which Will and I wrote remotely through a lot of conversation about the people and places that were running through Will’s head when he had the seed of the song. The title refers to the practice of dead reckoning, which is a navigation technique that involves finding your way when you’ve lost your bearings by fixing some point based on the wind or the moon. My grandfather was a naval aviator during World War II, and he used to tell us a story of having to use dead reckoning to find his way back to his aircraft carrier when he went astray deep in the vast blackness of night over the pacific ocean. The person doing the reckoning in this song is even more lost than that.”

Will Graefe · Dead Reckoner


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