First Solo Album Since 2004's Grown Backwards includes Collaborations with Brian Eno, Roadidh McDonald, Daniel Lopatin, Jam City, Thomas Barlett & Jack Penate
American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with David Byrne's vision for his series "Reasons To Be Cheerful," named for the song by the late Ian Dury. Over the last year, Byrne has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that all either embody or identify examples of things that inspire optimism, such as a tech breakthrough, a musical act, a new idea in urban planning or transportation – something seen, heard, or tasted. Just as the album questions the current state of society while offering solace through song, the content of the series recognizes the darkness and complexity of today while showcasing alternatives to the despair that threatens us.
While Byrne has collaborated on joint releases with Brian Eno, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), and most recently St. Vincent over the past decade, American Utopia is Byrne's first solo album since, 2004's Grown Backwards. American Utopia morphed during the writing and recording process, beginning with longtime collaborator Brian Eno, and eventually growing to include collaborations with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Sampha, Savages) alongside a diverse cast of creative contributors including Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent producer, aka Doveman), Jack Peñate, and others.
The album was recorded in New York City at DB Spare Bedroom, Reservoir Studios, Oscilloscope, XL Studios, and Crowdspacer Studio and in London at Livingston Studio. The packaging features the work of "outsider artist" Purvis Young, whose work was often a blend of painting/drawing and collaged elements comprised of everyday found objects. A painting depicting a head with a face of indeterminate race or possibly gender – dreaming, meditating, contemplating – is on the album's cover. American Utopia will be accompanied by a world tour and choreographed concert that Byrne has called "the most ambitious show I've done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense."