Guest Review: Nikky Shah on Elijah Ocean- Bring It All In

Elijah Ocean is an artist from the great Los Angeles Area resembling a modern mix of folk and country in his latest album release “Bring It All In”, similar to the likes of Ryan Adams, Neil Young and even Noah Gundersen, Ocean holds his own with one of the best folk albums of the year. In his follow up record to “Tumble & Fall” from 2012 and his debut “The Wind or the Wine” from 2009, Ocean continues to cement his name in the modern folk and country genre as he pushes the limits of his talents as a musician, fully equipped with a seven piece band. The minor chord changes to the impressively creative sound combinations of each instrument from drums, banjo, pedal steel to harmonica-yes, it’s all here- each part is fundamental to creating the framework for Ocean’s impeccably innovative album. All of which lays the groundwork for Oceans voice and powerfully resonant lyrics to shine through til the end.

Ocean explains that the process of creating and recording “Bring It All In” was a dream come true. The entire album was recorded at Waterfront Studios (built by producer Henry Hirsch) inside a nineteenth-century church in Hudson, the perfect setting for Ocean’s vision for the album. Ocean sites The Beatles, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson as just a few of his aspirations while growing up.

The eight track album does not disappoint.

From the opening tracks Ride it Out and Savannah Rose, Ocean wins you over with the smooth intro that settles into a consistent guitar pace creating a soothing “close your eyes, settle in and breathe” aura that sets up the entirety of the album. When you listen closely you can pick out the backing harmonies completing the track, all of which creates a full, cohesive and warm sound that can only be seen as a classic country and folk song- however there is nothing generic about it. From the hopeful lyrics to the fluid sound, these tracks are definitely my favorite off the album.

Taking things down several notches, tracks Alarms, Sapphire Blue and the last track on the album Rosa bring down the instruments in a more stripped down, simpler sound where the lyrics, guitar, piano and Ocean’s vocals shine- and rightfully so. You’ll swap your toe tapping for a slow head nod as the lyrics resonate slowly. The eclectic sounds of these tracks instill a sense of urgency in Ocean’s powerful voice and lyrics, as the instruments take the backseat-still not losing its fullness.

You’ll find yourself nodding your head and tapping throughout the entirety of “Bring it all In”, without even noticing. It’ll take you for a ride without the emotional rollercoaster- an album that keeps things consistent, smooth and calm from beginning to end.

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