It’s been fourteen years since David Byrne has released a true solo album.
Since 2004’s Grown Backwards, he has put out collaborations with Brian Eno (Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008)) and St. Vincent (Love This Giant (2012)), his soundtrack for the TV series Big Love (Big Love: Hymnal (2008)) and a full blown concept musical (Here Lies Love (2010)), but nothing purely solo.
On March 9, Byrne will release American Utopia via Todomundo/Nonesuch, an album that came out of David’s “Reasons to Be Cheerful” series that collects stories, photos and music which are full of hope.
Byrne said “These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather attempt to depict the world we live in now. Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with that world—the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves—well, does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking.
“This album is indirectly about those aspirational impulses. Sometimes to describe is to reveal, to see other possibilities. To ask a question is to begin the process of looking for an answer. To be descriptive is also to be prescriptive, in a way. The act of asking is a big step. The songs are sincere—the title is not ironic. The title refers not to a specific utopia, but rather to our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, and hopes regarding what could be possible, what else is possible. The description, the discontent and the desire—I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.
“I have no prescriptions or surefire answers, but I sense that I am not the only one looking and asking, wondering and still holding onto some tiny bit of hope, unwilling to succumb entirely to despair or cynicism.”
The album was made with Brian Eno and Rodaidh McDonald and includes guest spots from Oneohtrix Point Never, Jam City, Doveman, Jack Peñate, Sampha, TTY, Happa Isaiah Barr and others.
I Dance Like This
Gasoline and Dirty Sheets
Every Day Is a Miracle
This Is That
It’s Not Dark Up Here
Doing the Right Thing
Everybody’s Coming to My House