Words by Doug Deloach. Photo by Anne Staveley
Like an Americanised version of Pentangle, Elephant Revival apply superior instrumental acumen, idiosyncratic style, and a knack for compelling writing and arranging to transform the traditional folk band formula into something more imaginative and enthralling than the sum of its parts suggests.
This is the Colorado-based quintet’s fourth album. Distinctively stamped on its most affecting tracks is the tremolo-laden voice of Bonnie Paine, who also plays washboard, djembé, musical saw and stomp-box. Sounding like a cross between Cat Power and Buffy Saint-Marie, Paine brings a soulful, breathy and alluring resonance to everything she sings. Sage Cook (banjo, guitar, mandolin) and Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo) lend their dulcet tones to the mix, harmonising beautifully with Paine, while Bridget Law (fiddle) and Dango Rose (double bass, mandolin, banjo) ply their trade with empathetic charm. It’s an irresistible mix of neo-folk poetry (‘Remembering a Beginning’), alternative balladeering (‘Spinning’), jazzy bluegrass (‘The Pasture’), roadhouse vamping (‘Rogue River’), and neo-Celtic reeling (‘The Rakers’). A captivating contribution to the Americana category.
TRACK TO TRY: ‘Remembering a Beginning’