It's that time of year again. When we celebrate Americanism by gorging ourselves with turkey till we sweat gravy‚ and ponder the year's most notable music with "best of" lists. I can safely say that Elephant Revival‚ won't be on my best of 2009 list‚ they won't be on anybody's list for that matter. But it's not for lack of talent or inspiring moments‚ the Colorado collective's debut is chock full of both. The problem is‚ the self-titled album was released last year and I'm late to the party.
Though it technically isn't a new release‚ Elephant Revival is fresh in the sense that it's continually reaching new audiences (it is sold on nationally‚ but isn't yet available in East Coast record stores)‚ and its' dense‚ chamber folk arrangements sound engaging enough to remain exciting for years to come. Though the strings I'm most accustomed to are the ones that keep my shoes tied and edible ones comprised of cheese‚ my lack of classical background never hampers my enjoyment of the strings on the quintet's fiddles‚ violas‚ guitars and mandolins. Diverse yet accessible‚ the group brilliantly mix the simplicity of folk music with an array of multi-instrumental exploration.
And to top it off‚ they're all great singers too. While Bonnie Paine's powerful‚ heartfelt vocals are the most frequent on the album‚ the other members thrive when given solo time in the spotlight‚ whether it be a vocal or instrumental solo. Though Paine's album closing a capella and other solo singing is welcomed‚ the group is at it's best when collaborating on all cylinders. Male-Female vocal duets like that of "Sing To The Mountain‚" fully utilize the many gifted voices of Elephant Revival. And while instrumental tracks are essentially filler on many albums‚ the theatrical ascension of "Single Beds Are Made For One‚" ditches vocals and allows the listener to fully embrace just how phenomenal the group sounds jamming together. This one can't make it on your 2009 top ten list‚ but it still deserves a spot in your music library.