New Release & Video: Phil Cook – All These Years / Queen of Branches

All These Years, Phil Cook’s first fully instrumental piano release, will be released digitally on November 19th, with a physical version to follow on April 22nd.

A songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, solo artist, and in-demand musician whose collaborations have run the gamut of genre – as a founding member of band Megafaun to work with The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bon Iver, Kanye West, and Hiss Golden Messenger, to name a few – here, Cook returns to his primary instrument, the piano, back where it all began.

All These Years was recorded at NorthStar Church of the Arts in Durham, NC by his cousin and collaborator Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Indigo Girls), on a long-cared-for and much-loved one-hundred year-old Steinway piano.

The first single from the album, “Queen of Branches,” has also been unveiled. Alongside the track, a music video by Daniel Fox, a fellow traveler and close friend of Phil’s who was an early encourager of this piano project, can be enjoyed below…

Cook states: “I love the recording of ‘Queen Of Branches.’ It epitomizes the ‘hymn-provisational’ style that weaves the entire session together. This is, above all, a document of sound and space. The way the melody dances with the bird’s song. The almost-biblical snake that wove its way across the sanctuary floor as I played. The sun fractals kaleidoscoping through the stained glass on an April morning. All of it captured perfectly by my cousin and life-long friend, Brian Joseph. This is the most honest work of my career.”

All These Years is near hymn-like, a collection of prayers or meditations, improvisations threaded together by feeling, by the things that matter most. When Cook began these songs, he was in the headspace of meditating on the people in his support network, and those closest to him. Through composing the music, he began to reflect on specific and important presences in his life, and ends up capturing their essence via keys here. He distills decades of friendship, brotherhood, family, love, learning, and loss into flickering piano portraits — impressionistic and fluid and reverent. It’s not so much looking backwards as it is just looking around, reflections on all that is human and divine and present, and the roads we’ve taken to get us there.

A portion of net profits from the sale of All These Years will go to the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, the non-profit of the Hayti Heritage Cultural Center.