Undertow is the seventh album by The New Jersey based musical collective Elk City who are based at Ray Ketchum's Magic Door Studios in Montclair that was built by Ray with his Guided By Voices colleague Kevin March. This is the second album recorded together in one session, following on from last years Above The Water, this is more like you've sunk below the waves, or have you. Joining Ray Ketchum and Renee Lo Bue are Sean Eden, Richard Baluyut and Chris Robertson.
The album opens with the title song Undertow sounding like an unlikely cross between Lene Lovich and Linda Thompson, as you have to watch out, that you don't get swept away by that Undertow, as the rain has created floods once more. The autumnal vibes of the music fit a rainy storm swept landscape perfectly.
Strong (You're Not Alone) has an eastern Psychedelic freak folk feel, as the need to make sure you stay strong, if you're going to make your way through the malaise that is modern life. Intriguingly it transforms into the gentlest encouraging glacial folk song like you are sitting in a circle deep in the forest waiting for the sun to come up chanting for the beauty of life to restore you once more.
Tried To Move On haven't we all recently, as Rene dreams of being with all the friends she used to see and hang around with, before everything fell to pieces, attempting the impossible task of seeming normal, on a gorgeous pop song that builds with the estrangement of time, yet drawing you inextricably into older orbiting instrumental time passages, as you seek re-connection building those bridges.
Ride The Surf is woozy hazy strings cascading into gauzy ululating battle, with the waves of sound changing your life.
Keep it musically makes me want to stretch, as we find out all the things Rene tells us the secrets you should keep.
Pathaway is that path we all hope to keep walking away from all the tragedy had hard times into better days, with less horror, needless loss, this is sullen majesty full of hope and beauty, light some candles and let them soothe away your pains.
The album closes with The Messenger that opens as a mystical folk tale, as we find out just what the messenger must tell us, leading us through a web of musical feelings cadences driving you out of your mind screams a guitar. Let your tears fall for all the chaos as the message becomes more of a strident hymn for crossing like ships in the early morning mist, searing rays of sunlight peak though the gloom.
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