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Bon Iver Releases 'PDLIF,' A New Song To Benefit COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Bon Iver's recent music has been intricately crafted enough that it's bound to roll out sparingly: The gaps between all four of the band's albums run anywhere from three to five years. Given that i,i came out in 2019 — and that Bon Iver just last month released a 10th-anniversary reissue of its Blood Bank EP, complete with bonus live tracks — it's surprising to be greeted with a brand new song, especially given, you know ... everything.

But our current flood of bad news and crises actually inspired "PDLIF," the title of which is an acronym for "Please Don't Live in Fear." Built around a sample of Alabaster dePlume's languid 2012 instrumental "Visit Croatia" (and, by the way, dePlume's gorgeous music is well worth plunging into a Bandcamp rabbit hole), the new song features socially distanced contributions from Kacy Hill (vocals), Jim-E Stack (drum programming) and others. The words, highlighted by the useful mantra "There will be a better day," come from Vernon, dePlume and Bon Iver member Mike Lewis.

Sonically, "PDLIF" effectively mixes several different Bon Iver aesthetics, processing dePlume's sampled tenor sax in a way that recalls 2011's "Beth/Rest" while manipulating the vocal tracks in ways that conjure memories of 22, A Million. But the song's mission couldn't be clearer: With 100% of proceeds going to the humanitarian-aid organization Direct Relief, "PDLIF" is meant to remind us of the connections and common causes that hold us together.

"PDLIF" is out now via Jagjaguwar.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)