It’s been six years since Pete Yorn released a solo album, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t remained busy. The singer-songwriter, who’s scheduled to play to a sold-out crowd at the Bartlett on Sunday, hasn’t put a stop to touring, and his side project the Olms dropped a record in 2013.
“It doesn’t feel that long to me,” Yorn said during a recent phone interview. “I wasn’t completely dormant. I got married in 2010, my wife just had a baby. So we’re setting up shop, if you will. That’s been great. I can tell already coming home from tour for the first time with a little one, it changes everything in a good way. … It’s a nice grounding energy.”
“ArrangingTime” is Yorn’s sixth studio LP, a collection of songs he has amassed over the past few years.
“It’s all new material,” he said. “A lot of my other records I’d pull out songs that I wrote in high school or college. But this one’s all new. I’d say the oldest stuff is maybe from 2012, when I was first exploring the project.”
The album was recorded in various home studios, and Yorn performed much of the music himself. He describes his recording process as “a layering approach”: He starts with a musical baseline and then builds atop it until he’s satisfied with the final product.
“I’ll go in (to the studio) and I’ll have a song in my head,” Yorn said. “And I wrote it on acoustic guitar, but I want to start (recording) on drums or on piano, because I know that’ll take it to a different place. Each track we lay down takes us to the next step, and it’s this slow unveiling of what the song will become. It’s one of my favorite things about music in general, recording that way.”
“ArrangingTime” is an album of introspection and self-improvement, about looking ahead to the future while reflecting on the past. “Is there reason not to change / Stay the same, become a new thing?” Yorn wonders on “Lost Weekend.” On “Tomorrow,” he admits, “There’s so much of this world I never see / In front of me.” The album closer, “This Fire,” muses, “You never move forward when you’re looking back.”
Although he’s still processing some of the subjects he’s writing about, Yorn suspects that the changes in his home life have most likely influenced his music.
“(The title) is a reminder to me to be present, if anything,” he said. “The most common phrase I can liken it to is ‘carpe diem.’ … I’d find myself often drifting to the past, and I’d miss so much great stuff around me. So it’s like, enough of that. I think the characters in the songs are either stuck in that place or moving past it. There are multiple perspectives in each song.
“But I don’t spell it out in really obvious tones,” Yorn continued. “I’m into subtlety, and my writing is more suggestive, and I expect that people will get many different things out of it. And that’s the way it’s always been.”
The 12 tracks on “ArrangingTime” are slightly more subdued than the more straight-ahead rock of Yorn’s previous self-titled album. You can also hear some electronic elements creeping back into his work, which harkens back to Yorn’s 2001 debut, “Musicforthemorningafter.”
“I think I’m really reacting to the projects that came before,” Yorn said. “When I made ‘Musicforthemorningafter,’ there were a lot of cheap electronics and dance and Britpop elements underlying these rootsy songs that I would write. I remember when I went to make the second record after touring, I wanted to rebel against that sound a bit. … When I came back to this, I just wanted to have fun with keyboards and drum machines again.”
Yorn, who is touring with a three-piece backing band, says he records all his concerts, and he released a string of live acoustic EPs a decade ago. He says that he’s hoping for a new live release sometime in the future, so there’s a distinct possibility that some performances from the upcoming Bartlett show could eventually wind up on a record.
“A lot of times the tour ends, and it’s just sitting on a drive somewhere and you don’t go through it,” Yorn said. “So I just need to say, ‘We’re putting something together.’ … It is time for another live record, even if it’s just a few songs. But I’m going to follow through this time; I’m gonna get it done.”
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.