Nashville based singer-songwriter Avi Kaplan has released his version of the late Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.” This release marks the first new music from Kaplan since his I’ll Get By EP, produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit) earlier this year via Fantasy Records.
A portion of the proceeds from “Lean On Me” will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative and their work to end racial inequality in all aspects of the criminal justice system.
Avi Kaplan states on the inspiration behind covering Bill Withers: “‘Lean On Me’ is one of my favorite songs, written by one of my favorite artists of all time, the incomparable Bill Withers. I arranged it for my most recent tour in hopes of inspiring the people who heard me sing it to look beyond their political or religious beliefs, color of skin, social class, and anything that could possibly divide us as a human race and come together. To lean on each other in troubling times. Since tour was canceled times have only become more troubled. I’m releasing this song in hopes of it being a reprieve for anyone suffering during all of this as I feel music is truly the best medicine. I also wanted to make sure it went further than that, so I will be donating all my proceeds from this track to Equal Justice Initiative, a foundation that fights against the oppression and injustice our Black, POC and Native American communities have faced for far too long. I truly believe in what they are doing, how they are doing it and their dreams for a better tomorrow.”
On I’ll Get By, Kaplan shared personal stories about love, anxiety, loss, and his time growing up in California. Exploring a range of sounds from soul to bluegrass, these songs are threaded together by the search for spiritual redemption, and cast with acoustic guitar, pedal steel, swirling organ and deep groove percussion that complements Kaplan’s haunting vocal ability.
I’ll Get By pays homage to some of his early influences such as Bill Withers, John Denver, and Simon and Garfunkel, whilst offering a new contemporary twist on 60s heritage influenced folk music. With the exception of the lead track, “Change on the Rise,” (produced by Paul Moak) I’ll Get By was helmed by producer Mike Mogis, well known for his work with Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst and First Aid Kit among others.