A River Running to Your Heart is Fruit Bats’ first full-length album since The Pet Parade in 2021 and follows the critically acclaimed 2022 album Rolling Golden Holy from Bonny Light Horseman, the trio that includes Johnson, Anais Mitchell and Josh Kaufman.
Self-produced by Johnson—a first for Fruit Bats—with Jeremy Harris at Panoramic House just north of San Francisco, this is Fruit Bats’ tenth full-length release. A River Running to Your Heart represents the fullest realization of Johnson’s creative vision to date. It’s a sonically diverse effort that largely explores the importance of what it means to be home, both physically and spiritually. And while that might seem like a peculiar focus for an artist who’s constantly in motion, for Fruit Bats, home can take many forms—from the obvious to the obscure.
“Over the years there's been a lot of geography in my music, a lot of landscapes,” Johnson says. “Sometimes the places are real, sometimes they're emotional. I've always liked the idea of songs and albums that exist in a continuum with one another. I'm not talking about some kind of deep series of concept albums, mind you. More like the idea that my songs are all pretty much tributaries of the same river. Which makes a lot of metaphorical sense because my path has been long and winding and often slow and muddy. But always moving towards the sea.
“I guess you could say this album is the one where I took all that emotional geography and kind of mapped it out.” The forthcoming album finds the project in the middle of a people-powered climb leading to the biggest shows, loudest accolades, and most enthusiastic new fans in Fruit Bats history. It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason for this mid-career resurgence. But after two decades of making music, hard-earned emotional maturity has clearly seeped into Johnson’s already inviting songs, resulting in a sound that’s connected with audiences like no other previous version of the band.