Through Acoustic Guitar and Foot-Stomping, Avi Kaplan Says "I'll Get By"

Avi Kaplan was born in California. He spent a good deal of his childhood listening to folk music under the giant sequoia trees. It’s a place he holds close in his heart no matter where his career has taken him.

“To be honest, I had no idea just how popular and famous this guy was when I threw on the new album 'I’ll Get By.' The first thing that struck me when I heard it was his deep, full voice. At times it reminded me of other singers, but it turns out he’s got a pretty famous voice," says WYEP's Joey Spehar.

Kaplan's voice isn't necessarily well known on its own, but he used to be a member of the wildly popular a capella group Pentatonix.

Kaplan left the group in 2017 to pursue a solo career that began in earnest that year with the release of a series of singles under the name Avriel and the Sequoias. Those singles from 2017 had a strong bluegrass feel to them, but that would soon change for Kaplan.

“He was struggling a lot with anxiety and depression after leaving a very successful career to basically start over. He didn’t quit, though. Instead, he turned that heavy feeling into a mantra for overcoming his struggles. That’s where the single 'I’ll Get By' comes in. It’s, in my opinion, the best, or at least the most enduring song on the record. Maybe that’s why it’s the title track,” says Spehar.

The arrangements on the album are impeccable with lots of echoey harmonies accompanied by acoustic guitar and a healthy dose of foot-stomping. The record sounds warm, inviting, and comfortable and that’s in part to Mike Mogis who produced the album in Omaha. Mogis is a member of Bright Eyes and has produced albums for Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis, Elizabeth & The Catapult, and more.

The video for “I’ll Get By” is heavy on symbolism and sees Kaplan filling a bag with heavy rocks and carrying them to a waterfall where he’s met by friends who help him unload that heavy, rocky burden. Kaplan said the video successfully conveys exactly what he was feeling when he wrote that song.

“The song builds to a climax with Kaplan begging for some “quiet and peace” and shouting that he won’t take anymore. It’s uplifting and empowering in a way, but not in the get pumped up to exercise way. Unless your version of exercise includes sitting under massive trees in the middle of the forest and telling yourself life will get better,” says Spehar.

The album reflects on his time in Pentatonix.

“He loved to sing and certainly enjoyed the success – they did win three Grammys before he departed – but, he’s much happier now. This album is as personal as we’ve heard yet from Avi Kaplan who, while being raised among Sequoias in California, now lives a few miles outside of Nashville, deep in the woods, away from the grind of Los Angeles, just how he likes it,” says Spehar.

Hear Joey Spehar’s full album review here:

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