New Music from David R. Elliott

Category: music 148

Taking a page from the Daniel Romano playbook, Elliott continues to challenge his audience with each new release trading predictability for the chance to go deep in whichever direction he pleases.

Matt Carter
Photo by Patrick Wafer

David R. Elliott has never been one to repeat himself. With a back catalogue that includes dozens of releases channeling his interests in folk, country, indie rock and pop music, his career could be defined as equal parts prolific and eclectic. Taking a page from the Daniel Romano playbook, Elliott continues to challenge his audience with each new release trading predictability for the chance to go deep in whichever direction he pleases.

On his latest release, Elliott assembled a cast of familiar collaborators including drummer Evan Matthews and guitarist/bassist Marc Doucet. The album was produced, engineered and mixed in New Brunswick at the Memramcook Recording Company by the multitalented, fishing musician, Mike Trask.

Despite taking some serious direction of some of folk/rock’s most influential musicians, Strawberry Grass is all Elliott. Occasional unexpected turns in both melody and lyrics keep things comfortably off-track and impulsive.

For this recording, Elliott finds himself drawing on all past creative directions.  Guided by the likes of Prine, Springsteen and Dylan, Strawberry Grass is full of songs about life and family and is a worthy follow-up to 2015’s Shine.

“What I found when combing through the best of my rootsy stuff is that the majority of it happens to be about family,” he said. “Even the songs that I expressly wrote about something romantic that was going on in my life I found to be related directly back to stories my father told me or situations in his and mom’s life as I understand them.

“This album is more about actually writing properly with themes and exploring what I think I am actually supposed to be doing, which is writing on behalf of working class Saint John people like me and my family.”

“Delving further into the content of the songs, I found I could actually piece together a narrative beginning with the opening track I’m Not Him, which is written from my father’s point of view and is about his urge to prove he wasn’t his father. That’s part of the reason he ended up marrying when he was 17 and starting a family. Seven kids and two divorces later and here we all are. I guess I’m trying to find ways to make sense of it while also making it fun music.”

In some ways Elliott sees Strawberry Grass as a sequel to Rearrange, his 2013 full-length release and his first produced by Trask.

“Both albums are sort of a weird take on roots music, both entirely analog, both produced by Trask and mastered by J. Lapointe,” said Elliott. “The writing [this time] is much sharper than on Rearrange and the tones and fidelity are much more intense. Both Trask and I have improved quite a bit in our abilities since the last time we made a record together. Also, I think Rearrange was mainly an exercise in writing. It was a combination of stories I read about, paired with reckless emotion stemming from a long-term relationship that ended.

“This album is more about actually writing properly with themes and exploring what I think I am actually supposed to be doing, which is writing on behalf of working class Saint John people like me and my family.”

On Trask’s involvement with the project, Elliott admits he isn’t often comfortable relinquishing creative control in the studio but find’s Trask’s unique vision a parallel to his own in many ways.

“I don’t like to give up creative reigns most of the time,” he said, “but I find Trask and I have the kind of relationship where I can really trust him to produce something I will love and that’s interesting and genuinely unique. And you can see with the work he’s done at MRC, particularly with his new album, he really is on his own planet creatively and musically.”

Many of the songs on Strawberry Grass have been in Elliott’s repertoire for years. Having become so familiar with them, he was unsure they could find a place on this latest project without feeling dated and played out.

“These are all songs that I love but I’ve been playing for so long I found it hard to imagine being able to take them to a new and exciting place on my own,” he said. “It was important for me to find a way to make them exciting and really give them their proper place on an album. I wanted to make sure I could give them the respect they warrant and I needed Trask to do that. He had to make the call about the songs and say, ‘on this one you’re just going to sit there and play it and we’re not going to fuck with it at all’, or conversely, ‘this one is going to be almost unrecognizable from its original version’.” 

Strawberry Grass was released on June 20, 2017.

David R. Elliott is currently on tour in support of his new album backed by drummer Evan Matthews and Motherhood bassist Penelope Stevens.

David R. Elliott On Tour:

July 4 – Peterborough, ON
July 5 – Guelph, ON
July 6 – Ottawa, ON
July 7 – Saint John, NB
July 8 – Fredericton, NB
July 20 – Halifax, NS
 
David R. Elliott | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BANDCAMP

 

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