When Pete Yorn stopped by the Daytrotter studio on Feb. 24 to record “Future Life” and three more songs, Sean Moeller had this to say:
The future life that Pete Yorn sings about on a song of the same name from his self-titled new album, is just his idea of the present, or the imposing imprint of a future that he’s already seeing happening all around him. It’s one of confliction.
Here’s a 36-year-old man, whose debut album went gold 10 years ago, scared shitless of what must become of most people, of what he has to only jokingly think might be headed down his pathway: a life of unforgiving domesticity. It’s a life of settling down and into a regiment. It’s a life that many strive for and hold above all else as the great All-American dream of owning a house and having a family to care for. It’s a life that anyone who’s had good fortune and his or her own form of fame come to them must see in those with whom they graduated high school and shudder to think about what it must feel like. The shuddering might last even longer if that fame and fortune seem as if they could go up in a poof of smoke at any second. It would be a paralyzing fear that’s compounded by living in an alternate universe where a night’s judged by the response of a crowd and where there’s a sinking suspicion that you’ve never actually been in love before, or that it’s been so long that it’s like it never happened and there are no remnants of its past existence.
The idea of never having been in love pops up a couple of times on Yorn’s latest and it’s a source of forlorn, of affected reflection that sounds to be extremely bothersome. It’s something that sounds to be weighing on his mind these days and it surely doesn’t help that all of his friends are in fast-paced baby/daddy/mommy mode and they’ve forgotten everything of those former, pre-kid days. It’s a quick transition that happens to every parent, when life becomes so real that any memories of how we used to spend our time are smudged up completely and hardly recognizable. This is scary for the Yorn of today, and he wonders why it’s so scary on “Future Life,” when he sings, “Yeah, my friends, they’re diving in deep / To all this holy matrimony / A house, a dog, two kids and a van / Get a job selling real estate / Or finance/Why the hell does this scare the shit out of me?/Am I different?/Am I free?/Life’s been great to me / Oh yet it feels a lil sad. / This cliché of time / I know it must be true / When what you want is what you have / Then you know you’ve found you.”
On this album, his sixth, Yorn sounds like a nostalgic, but grounded dreamer, a man who is seeing his week’s worth of stubbly growth getting peppered with his first gray hairs and thinking about dark and uncomfortable things that he’d never needed to spend any time with before. He hints at waking up in cold sweats and at needing to be freer and more carefree, but it becomes increasingly more difficult with every passing day. It’s enough to just keep a head above the water, do what you can to survive in the best way you know how. He’s ready for a deliverance, for a final statement, as he sings on “Wheels”: “Now when I feel my time is almost up / And destiny is in my right hand / I’ll turn to him who made my faith so strong / C’mon wheels make this boy a man.” It’s a statement to not wanting to outrun it all—the scariness and such—and just taking it, the punches and the caresses.