“I’ve been around, but now I’m gone” goes the refrain of “Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)”, a standout single from Kurt Vile’s brand new record (watch my moves). And it’s true, he has been around. Since 2008’s breakout LP Constant Hitmaker Vile’s been churning out, well, if not hits in the Top 100 sense, then certainly what can be called hits in his own idiosyncratic corner of the music world. Seven records and dozens of tours later Vile is as comfortable and easy-going as any musician working today, his effortless delivery and virtuoso musicianship like a cool spring breeze, welcomed and reliable.
But when he says he’s gone, he means it. Gone home, gone to Mount Airy, gone from the constant touring schedule. At least, he was. When I talk to him he is just getting ready to return from a kind of welcomed hibernation, one that actually preceded, if only slightly, the pandemic that forced us all to get away for a while. Vile is set to head out on tour in support of (watch my moves), his first since 2019, which culminates in two nights at Union Transfer in June.
(watch my moves), more than any of his records, is a work of contentment, an already laid-back artist taking a deeper breath than he allowed himself to take in years. Much of this can be attributed to the last two years, which have seen Vile slow down in a way he hadn’t in some time. Early in his career, Vile would have trouble turning down any opportunity offered, something that led to a fair amount of burnout. Even before the pandemic hit, Vile knew he needed to step back and reevaluate. “It’s kind of funny in a dark humor way that once the pandemic hit it was perfect timing,” he tells me over the phone. “I feel like there were enough things in the atmosphere to make it apparent that I might want to be at home anyway.”