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By Tom Murphy
As a followup to last year's Break in the Clouds, Elephant Revival went into Boulder's Immersive Studios to record its latest effort — the It's Alive EP, due in stores this Tuesday, November 20. The members wanted to be able to record their individual parts while in the same room together, as well as take advantage of the studio's DSD technology.
The Nederland-based folk quintet brought on famed slide guitarist Sally Van Meter to produce the disc, and in addition to the EP, the band released a 45-page songbook that includes artwork from each member, along with chords from the band's first two albums, the new EP and three songs that were recorded during the EP sessions. The outfit is heading to Seattle in January to record a full-length with producer Ryan Hadlock; in the meantime, we spoke with violinist Bridget Law about the new EP.
Westword: Can you talk about making the new EP?
Bridget Law: There's been kind of some pressure for us to make a really produced album that might be more radio-friendly. We just weren't ready to do that. We just didn't feel that we captured our sound enough yet, so we put a little resistance with the powers that be to make an album that was very true to who we are, and that was really important to us as artists. We wanted to do something that captured the energy — fresh energy — of what we've worked so hard to create over the last six years. And I think we did it.
The truth of that record is that every single track is recorded...it's pretty much a live record. A lot of the lead vocals were even done live. The fiddle solos — everything's live. We're all playing at least one instrument, and Bonnie [Paine] obviously plays a couple at a time, because she's doing percussion and singing. We're all playing something together at the same time. We chose the best take that we all could create, but it's not an overdubbed record. We overdubbed some harmonies, and there was a little bit of color here and there, but ultimately, it's a live record with the sound quality of a studio album. And that's what we were going for. We just wanted to capture the energy, and I feel like we did it. I'm really proud of that record.
I'm guessing the title, It's Alive, is a reference to playing live in the studio.
Right. It's a lyric in the first track. It's kind of a reference to Bonnie's song "What's That," where she's talking about the planet being alive. We needed something that referenced that it was a live album, but we didn't want it to be confused with being a show live album. It took us forever to decide on something. This whole entire process of this record just took forever. Everything took forever. It was just so funny, because it just wanted to be made. The creation, the music itself, just wanted to be done in honor of the creation, and nobody could push that – nobody. Not our manager, not any one of us, not us as a whole. It was supposed to be out at the beginning of the summer. It wasn't. It wasn't even done until we were done with our touring season, which is just so funny.
It was kind of indicative of where we are as a band right now, where the entity itself speaks. It's no longer like five egos. It's become its own entity. The music that we create together, the consciousness that comes together collectively, is really its own thing. I think the more I watched this album come together, the more I realized it was like showing me that, "Okay, if you listen close enough, the entity itself has a voice right now."