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in the Air
Label: Revelation Records
Length: 10 tracks/ 49:19
Elliott is a band that is not afraid to branch out when they make a new album. They proved this with their sophomore release False Cathedrals, which added a softer feel on some songs, making their louder songs more impacting. Song in the Air continues in the logical direction that Cathedrals left off, adding layers of atmosphere that any fan of sheer musical beauty will be hard pressed not to enjoy.
Songs in the Air is certainly a far cry from the band’s debut U.S. Songs, which started this grand ride. The album begins slowly with an almost danceable vibe on “Land and Water,” which builds to the breaking point as vocalist Chris Higdon shouts, “You are the world.” By this point the listener can tell that though the music may include its softer points, there is still a definite rock influence to be heard as well. It’s hard to describe the band’s sound in relation to others, but at times one can hear the influence of bands such as U2 and Coldplay. However, make no doubt about it, this is an indie rock album.
At times the lighter musical feel is used as a tool to build to something bigger, though at other times the band camps out in this territory and gives the listener something tasteful to soak up. The swirling atmosphere that the band creates is aided strongly by the lead guitar lines of Benny Clark. They add a meaning to the songs that most bands lack. Just because the guitar is the most obvious element of the atmosphere, however, doesn’t mean it’s the only instrument at work here. Kevin Ratterman does a masterful job with drums, keys, and string arrangements and the bass guitar of Jason Skaggs always fits the music perfectly. Higdon’s voice is the icing on the cake. Two of the album’s songs are instrumentals, but they seem to be just as compelling as the songs that include lyrics. “Drag Like Pull” is one of the major musical highlights with its six minutes of soaring atmosphere.
As with their previous releases, the vocals are seen as an instrument more than a way of sending out a message. Thus the sound mix makes it difficult to discern the lyrics, which is a positive thing because it makes the lyrics all the more impressive when you dig for them. Song in the Air is an album of poetry that could work on its own even without the music. “Beijing (Too Many People)” is one of many well-penned songs: “If you look at it the right way. You’re not twisted. You’re holding. You try so hard to push it away. It was always in the right place. Your shaded heart, cool and colored. Your image bleeds oceans. Two arms grown close and pulled away. We will all bleed in the right shades of too many people. Too many people, so many people in this world.” The lyrical theme of the title track “Song in the Air” is a good summary of the entire album: “Don’t send me away. Come with song in the air. Bring your life and your love. Show that sparkles last. Drag on. Away. Maybe you’re the same. Without me.” Light-hearted these songs are not, but they are open and heartfelt.
Once again Elliott has shown positive growth with a new album. Everyone who appreciates good, solid music and/or poetry would do well to invest in a copy of Song in the Air. Elliott is as original as they are talented and they have discovered the recipe for incredible music.
Trae Cadenhead 5/5/2003