Reviewing an album isn’t like reading a book and doing a book report on it. Generally you would only read the book once. When I review an album, I’ve listened to it 20 to 30 times over the period of a few weeks. I like to become familiar with the music I review and get a feel for the album in its entirety. Sometimes I find there’s a common theme amongst the songs that relates to the title but not a single thread that must be followed for the story to make sense. The feel I get from Eli Young Band’s new album, 10,000 Towns, is one of familiarity. It feels comfortable, sometimes cozy. The picture on the album cover shows the band members in a nondescript setting that could be in any one of 10,000 towns anywhere in the world. Through the songs that make up this album, the story will become even more relatable. By the time you’re done listening to it, you’ll feel like you could sit down at that table with the guys from the band and have something in common to talk about.
My association with this album started with the first single released from it, “Drunk Last Night.” I’d heard the song on the radio and loved it. I downloaded it through iTunes and put it in rotation on my ipod. Let’s just say after a particularly overzealous celebration of someone’s birthday, I picked up that ipod the next morning with the hope that music would soothe my death warmed over feeling. The first words I heard were from Mike Eli singing “I got a little drunk last night…” as if I needed a reminder. As I said, relatable! The song is written by Laura Veltz and Josh Osborne and just the musical phrasing of the song suggests a repetitive pattern to enforce the lyrical reminder of past transgressions. Already I’m feeling at home with these guys and this journey has just started.
The title track is a Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins, Craig Wiseman penned tune and it creates the setting for the album through the lyrical picture it paints. It has an easy, relaxed feel to it and invites the listener to settle in for awhile. If you’ve ever lived in a small town, “Dust” will strike a familiar chord. Who doesn’t dream about getting out of a small town to escape whatever’s holding you back? The songwriters, Jon Jones, James Young, Kyle Jacobs, and Josh Osborne, perfectly captured the feeling of flying down a highway, windows down, radio up, on your way to anywhere else – fast! It’s one of those songs you want to put on repeat because it feels so good to sing along to! Think of it as a musical get out of jail free card. It’s just fun!! “Angel Like You” is a love poem set to music, written by Heather Morgan, Liz Rose, and Mike Eli. Feels like something you’d slow dance to, a very sweet, gentle song.
Jimmy Robbins, David Lee Murphy, and Jon Nite wrote “Let’s Do Something Tonight” and one of my favorite lyrics on the album. “I wanna take this conversation outta this neon situation” is a perfect example of taking a familiar feeling and expressing it in a way that makes it sound original. It’s a very romantic song with a dreamy feel to it. There’s a definite time and place for this one. Again, relatable! “Your Last Broken Heart” almost has a rhythmic heartbeat to it. It’s a catchy tune written by Mike, Jon, and James of EYB with Sean McConnell. I’d call it a serenade with a beat. Great idea! Those same four writers wrote the heartwrenching “What Does.” Mike Eli’s vocal on this one makes it one of the standout songs on the album. The emotion he captures in this power ballad is an exclamation point on the story the lyrics tell. Beautiful song. Spectacular vocal!
“A Lot Like Love” is one of those looking in the rearview mirror songs written with a perspective-laden pen. Dylan Altman and Will Hoge wrote this one and somehow found a way to put a cool groove on a song full of regret. I love the up-tempo take on this one that makes it fun to sing along to. Who knew regret could feel so good? Will Hoge added another track to this album with co-writer Jon Randall. The two wrote “Just Add Moonlight,” a song that will make you want to get up and dance! This one is full of energy and Mike Eli’s vocal makes it come to life. It’s impossible to sit still for this one!
When you title a song “Revelations,” you better have something big to say, and this one does! All four members of EYB together with Sean McConnell had a tale to tell here. The music suggests that this one might have taken place in an old west town. The vibe is a slow, cool burn. I’m not sure they’ll sing this one in church on Sunday but everyone would sure pay attention if they did. And after all that revealing, the album ends with a prayer. “Prayer For The Road” was a collective effort by Kyle Jacobs, Billy Montana, and the guys from EYB. Sounds like a town hall collaboration. The production on this one is pure heaven. It’s a beautiful soft ballad that brings the record to a close with an implied amen.
10,000 Towns is a lot like comfort food. You can find it most anywhere you go and it satisfies just the same. The Eli Young Band has been together for awhile now. They’ve probably lost track of the number of towns they’ve played in and the miles covered are too numerous to imagine. I’d say they found a common thread in all those towns that made an impression on them and now manifests itself in their music. Their fans, no matter what town they come from, can relate to the songs on this album because they describe real life situations in real places. This is a common man’s album which makes a big statement in an understated way. No neon lights required. “I know everything’s gonna be alright, as long as this is goin’ on in 10,000 towns tonight.”
From WAY North of Nashville…..Bev Miskus
10,000 Towns is available through itunes: HERE
Visit Eli Young Band’s website for tour information: http://eliyoungband.com/tourdates
Watch the video for “Dust!”
Download the song through iTunes: HERE