Last year’s i,i marked the end of an era. The four-part album series was a transitional focal point for each season of the year. With Justin Vernon’s band completing the series, the next direction for Bon Iver remains unknown. As each album tied together the puzzling pieces of the band’s discography, the follow up remains a tricky situation. But the next season of Bon Iver has been premiered and Vernon reassures listeners with a sense of hope in these unsettling times.
Please don’t live in fear is an effective PSA when the people need it most. For a greater understanding, “Please Don’t Live In Fear” is what the first episode of the new Bon Iver season is titled, ultimately being shortened to “PDLIF”. Recorded in isolation, the song is filled with a blatant display of togetherness. Easing the tension of the reality of the current ongoing pandemic, Vernon lays the simplicity that leaves full attention to his vocals. Telling listeners to free their minds, Vernon is aware of the type of message to send to his audience.
The origins of the song come down to the resilience of frontline workers (as the song is a benefit release for the Direct Relief organization), and the song establishes the premise of the point of focus to highlight each contribution that went into the final product. In isolation, the song traveled to various contributors which include Jim-E-Stack, BJ Burton, and Kacy Hill. Respectively demonstrating the inclusion of each party involved, the song provides a glimpse to the behind the scenes work. Whether it may be secondary vocals from Kacy Hill or the therapeutic string arrangement courtesy of Rob Moose, each contribution completes the puzzle.
All in all, Justin Vernon stunningly carries the song into a form of fragility to soothe listeners whether than to force them with an unauthentic message. Combining various elements from previous releases, Vernon begins with the abrasive nature of compact beats before easily transitioning into a buildup of harmonizing background vocals and closing synths. Constantly progressing, Vernon repeatedly gets his message across, as it builds and builds into a powerful sendoff. Justin Vernon knows you’re trying to survive in a reality that is unknown, while being cautiously aware of assuring that “PDILF” is the comforting therapy session that remains available in this time of need.