Premiere: Rain Phoenix, ‘You Right’

Rain Phoenix (Photo by Brian Bowen Smith)

More than 25 years after his death, singer-songwriter, actress and activist Rain Phoenix still feels the strong presence of her big brother River.

The new single “You Right,” which comes out Monday, speaks to that sibling bond — or, really, any relationship strong enough to withstand human frailty. It’s a sublimely orchestrated meditation that seems straight out of the firmament, rising slowly to Phoenix’s plaintively sung confession: “I got everything wrong / I got you right.”

“It’s the feeling of being connected to someone who loves you no matter what,” she says of the song. “It’s like, ‘Man, I fucked up, but you’re OK with it, so we can move on.’ I love that, because everybody deserves another chance. When someone’s willing to take responsibility and admit they messed up, how could you not give them a second chance? That to me, is a form of unconditional love in friendships and relationships.”

Phoenix’s album is titled “River,” and it will be released on Oct. 31 (via her own LaunchLeft imprint), the 26th anniversary of his death. It’s an album that is about, for and in some ways by him.

In February, Phoenix issued two previously unreleased songs from Aleka’s Attic, the band she formed with her brother when they were teenagers. Along with those came the solo single “Time is the Killer,” featuring Michael Stipe of R.E.M.

“That’s the beginning of ‘River,’” she says. “Once you open the creative portal, you don’t really have control over what happens afterwards. It opened a huge 25-year gap. In its wake, there was a flood of creativity and memories of my brother and his energy. The push for the album to come into the world happened around the 25th anniversary. … Through the process of making my solo record, I realized that instead of trying to understand music without him, I needed to include him, because he never really left. I kept making music and realized it was going to be a record. It grew organically and felt guided. It wasn’t in the head; it was in the heart. So, I let the creative portal stay open.”

Phoenix says that in making the album with collaborator/producer Kirk Hellie, she reconnected with her brother. “In many ways, the connection had been closed for a long time,” she explains. “I think I locked it up to protect him. I needed to unlock it to move forward. Halfway through the record, I had an epiphany it would be named after him. Throughout the process, it became clear this could be a celebration of his life. I think after I named it ‘River,’ it tapped into that beautiful and unconscious place where I believe art comes from.”

||| Stream: “You Right”

||| Also: Stream “Immolate”

||| Live: Rain Phoenix continues her residency Monday night at Zebulon. The free show also features Azure Ray and Ane Diaz.