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Craig Elkins - I Love You Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.75
Musicianship 8
Lyrics 9.25
Production 9
Creativity 7.75
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 85%
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Craig Elkins - I Love You

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (08/06/12)
Craig Elkins - I Love You
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: July 3, 2012


"Lately it all feels disconnected. Like I pushed someone a little too far. I wish I could take it back. When I was a young man, I liked to drink, I liked to turn myself inside out. I like to make people angry. But I am not a young many anymore, and I got no idea how to cope. And I got no place to go to get myself free."

You'll probably never hear a disc like Craig Elkins' I Love You for quite some time. After all there aren't many songwriters who open an album by confessing, "I've been thinking about offing myself," and close it out with "Being a f--ing human can be a really big f--ng drag." And so it begins. The crazy spiral journey into the mind of one of America's most criminally underrated songwriters.

Elkins, who previously recorded music under the monikers O.L.D. and Craig Craigstofferson, is no stranger to writing songs. In the late 90s he fronted the Philadelphia rock act Huffamoose, who went on to land two radio singles, a slot on the HORDE tour and also Woodstock. A documentary was even made about the group, that Cameron Crowe has cited as one of the best rock documentaries ever made. But when major label success fell short for Huffamoose, Elkins retreated to California and carved a quiet niche for himself in Silverlake. And that time away from the spotlight has served him well, as I Love You is an arresting and absolutely unshakeable listen.

Elkins shows off his penchant for engaging pop smarts on the breezy and downright infectious single "Most of the People," a wisdom song written for his daughter. "So treat them kindly and with respect, and know they are doing the best they can do, with the tools that they've been given, and accept yourself for the same reasons, no matter how different you think you are, we're all just trying to dodge a bullet," he sings over soaring horns and swelling guitars.

On the countrified "I Wanted To, But I Didn't," he sings about regret and falling short against a backdrop of gorgeous piano, pedal steel and gentle guitars. And it is here that Elkins proves that when it comes to writing honest heart-on-the-sleeve confessionals, few are better than him. For further proof, there's the jangly "Tell 'em My Story," a Counting Crows-esque slice of Americana in which Elkins sings, "Talk about me like you want to hear somebody talk about you." Who knows if Elkins is singing to an ex-wife, a friend, or an industry veteran, but man, does he sing it with sincerity and conviction.

Those two traits come into play in the acoustic number "This House," an engrossing tale of a domestic fight and the consequences that follow. At five minutes it is a bit long, but then again, when are domestic fights ever brief? While it is certainly a strong effort, it is not nearly as transcendent as "Gravel," another country-esque effort that serves as a follow-up to "I Wanted To, But I Didn't." Elkins opens the song by singing, "When someone listens to you or watches you, they see success, but I see fear, you truly are afraid to be vulnerable, when I see you holding hands, with a person you supposedly love, I'm reminded of how far away from home we let ourselves roam." Backed by a driving piano, it is a sweeping and indelible effort and definitely one of the album's highlights.

But no song is more of an apex than the bursting ballad "I Can't Stop Being a Dick," a saturnine and cinematic tour-de-force that is arguably one of the year's most rewarding listens. And it is there in those five minutes that Elkins makes all the sense in the world. He's forthright, convincing and completely unafraid of bearing his soul. That he does it against music so thoughtfully crafted is all the more reason to give I Love You a listen. Chances are, you won't be disappointed.

Recommended If You Like Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, Cracker, Wilco


Find Him Here http://www.craigelkinsmusic.com
 
Displaying posts 1 - 4 of 4.
09:15 AM on 08/06/12
#2
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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Sounds right up my alley. Will check this out.
05:45 PM on 08/06/12
#3
Doctorpatt
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and I don't mind saying it in print--this is Stephen 'Doc' Patt, floating around Los Angeles with a git-tar in my hand, occasional sideman to Butch Walker and The Black Widows, leader of the Rickenbastards...and yes, that's me playing a leetle pedal steel on Craig's new album. At a time when I was overwhelmed by too much studio work, my own band, and a day job (Family Medicine doctor) I found Craig's music to be absolutely enrapturing--brutally honest, heartbreakingly sad, and over-the-top joyous. It's some of the best stuff I've heard or played on, period--so I just loved this project, start to finish, and am glad others will get a chance to hear how damn good these songs are, specially when played by Senor Elkins and crew. Rock on, dude! Cheers, Doc
06:39 PM on 08/07/12
#4
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
Online
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and I don't mind saying it in print--this is Stephen 'Doc' Patt, floating around Los Angeles with a git-tar in my hand, occasional sideman to Butch Walker and The Black Widows, leader of the Rickenbastards...and yes, that's me playing a leetle pedal steel on Craig's new album. At a time when I was overwhelmed by too much studio work, my own band, and a day job (Family Medicine doctor) I found Craig's music to be absolutely enrapturing--brutally honest, heartbreakingly sad, and over-the-top joyous. It's some of the best stuff I've heard or played on, period--so I just loved this project, start to finish, and am glad others will get a chance to hear how damn good these songs are, specially when played by Senor Elkins and crew. Rock on, dude! Cheers, Doc
Sideman to Butch Walker and The Black Widows? We should be friends.
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