Fleet Foxes have released A Very Lonely Solstice, a 13-track set recorded at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, New York, in December 2020. To accompany the album release on Dec. 10 is a film of the show, followed by a Q & A with singer Robin Pecknold, which will be broadcast on YouTube.
The original recording was broadcasted as a livestream event during the winter solstice of 2020, just days after New York declared a state of emergency and tightened restrictions following increasing cases of COVID-19. A large percentage of the performance is focused solely on Pecknold—who described the show as “me by myself on the longest night of the year, honoring the loneliness of 2020 with a nylon string and some songs new and old”—performing acoustic renditions of songs spanning the Fleet Foxes catalog.
Running through the set are stripped-back arrangements of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” off Fleet Foxes’ 2008 self-titled debut, “Blue Spotted Tail,” off their second album Helplessness Blues in 2011, and the 2017 single “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me.” The setlist also includes a rearrangement of “Silver Dagger,” of a 2018 compilation, First Collections 2008-2009, in addition to “Wading In Waist-High Water” and “Can I Believe You,” off the band’s fourth album Shore (2020) with Resistance Revival Chorus joining Pecknold for the performance.
Along with the release of A Very Lonely Solstice, Pecknold is also teaching a four-week online workshop on songwriting, a collaboration with the School of Song in Los Angeles.
The course is divided into four sections, the first titled “Process & Manifestos” will cover “the full life-cycle of a song’s creation,” followed by “Melody & Lyrics,” with an untitled course the third week centered around “various means of melodic development, the importance of rhythm to memorability, interval relationships, utilizing extensions and common tones, and techniques for writing melodies that accommodate harmonization.” The final week will focus on “Attention & Novelty” or tapping into the listener’s attention.
In addition to the four classes are weekly song-sharing sessions, where students can share what they’ve written and receive feedback and “homework” to work on within smaller peer groups.
The band recently earned a 2022 Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album for Shore. This marks Fleet Foxes’ second nomination since Helplessness Blues picked up a nom for Best Folk Album in 2012
A Very Lonely Solstice Tracklisting
1. Wading In Waist-High Water
3. In The Morning
4. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
6. Helplessness Blues
7. Silver Dagger
9. A Long Way Past The Past
10. Blue Spotted Tail
11. If You Need To, Keep Time on Me
12. I’m Not My Season
13. Can I Believe You
Photos by Shervin Lainez / Grandstand Media