To listen to Elephant Revival is to hear everything you’ve ever heard in acoustic music and yet nothing you’ve ever heard in acoustic music. The Colorado-based quintet will bring you to the edge of your chair in a pristine listening room, trying to capture every nuance. They will force you back in your lawn chair in the sun, to close your eyes, smile, and let the music just wash over you. Their latest record, Sands Of Now, captures that dichotomy with a selection from two live shows in Boulder, near their hometown of Nederland.
The album shows off many of their influences, from American bluegrass to Celtic traditional to Balkan folk music. Sing To the Mountain has the most spirit on the record, with Sage Cook’s electric banjo pretending to be a lead guitar and the audience joining in to howl at the moon with the line, “go and sing to the moon.” Will Carry On is perhaps the most traditional bluegrass tune, and has some excellent whistling. Lost Creek leans a little to a jam band sound with that lead guitar/banjo and gypsy fiddle to go with lyrics that could have come straight from a Phish number.
Toward the other end of the spectrum is The Garden with its echo and reverb effects and Shadow Passed that alternates tempos to end up almost two songs in one. Echo’s Rose includes a lot of vocal styling, including lead singer Bonnie Paine’s distinctive vibrato.
Speaking of Echo’s Rose, I have to include a note about packaging. For those of us who are still fans of rotational media, Sands Of Now is a two-disc set, one a CD and the other a DVD. On the DVD a couple of songs, including Echo’s Rose, feature a pair of interpretive dancers that adding to the multimedia depth of the shows. Elephant Revival is still far from being a household name even to diehard Americana fans. But the Sands Of Now CD/DVD gives you all kinds of reasons to discover them for yourself.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.