Album Review: Do you Think It’s Gonna Be The Same? By Big Red Machine

Written by on December 20, 2022

Big Red Machine, the band not the baseball team, just blasted another one out of the park. The sophomore album by the band, who is made up of Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon is actually an unforgettable comet that completes the game. Do You Think It’s Gonna Be The Same? Is an inspiring constellation of stars that burst in the sky before they whistle through your ears.

Incorporating heavy-hitting songwriting kung fu master like Taylor Swift, what could go wrong? Aaron Dessner co-wrote a number of songs with swift on her 2020 album Folklore. The group also deployed the stylings of Anaïs Mitchell, Fleet Foxes, Sharon Van Etten, Naeem, and La Force, just to name a few. The added spice compiled wonderfully to layer the project. The instrumental artistry is deviously in focus as the folky arrangements soothe and glide into the shape of a soul.

Much of the album was recorded at Dessner’s Long Pond studio in Hudson Valley, New York, starting in 2018 when their debut album was complete. The collaborations with Swift, “Birch” and “Renegade”, were recorded at her Los Angeles in-home studio and Kitty Committee. In the same week, Swift won the Album of the Year for Folklore at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. Dessner stated that Swift was “very helpful and engaged” with the band throughout the recording process.

Many of the album’s tracks were tested on-road at Big Red Machine concerts around the world, including “Easy To Sabotage” and “Reese”. Dessner stated he was using the project “to really try different things, and find the connection between my different impulses”.

“Phoenix” was one of the last songs written for the album. Vernon first conceived the melody of the song’s chorus while driving. Dessner forwarded its sketch to American singer-songwriter Robin Pecknold, the vocalist of Fleet Foxes, who Dessner had been “dreaming” to collaborate on the album. Pecknold wrote the song’s verses and pre-chorus in form of a dialogue with Vernon, recalling a conversation they once had backstage in Phoenix, Arizona. Mitchell penned the lyrics to the chorus, with drums by JT Bates. “Mimi” was written by Dessner, Vernon, and Ilsey in isolation, inspired by the former’s gratitude towards his children. James Krivchenia provided the drums in the song.

Dessner said that he viewed How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? as a version of The Last Waltz, the 1978 album by Canadian rock band The Band. For its instrumentation, he took cues from The Band, and the Grateful Dead as well. The orchestrations of How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? were composed by Bryce Dessner. Bryce is Aaron Dessner’s twin brother and fellow founding member of the band The National.

Below are our favorite songs from the album.

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