Brother Elsey

. February 1, 2020.
photo credit: Spencer Penfield

Intimate and epic Americana to the Ark

The three brothers of Brother Elsey are looking forward to the intimacy within The Ark. Brady, Beau, and Jack Stablein have been recording and performing a rousing blend of Americana and neo-country ballads for several years now, layering songs with evocative sheens of reverb, swelling harmonies, and road trip rhythms. They’re eager to distil that emotion down to its core, for their first stop at the Ark.

Feel the songs

“Playing a show at The Ark will be different than what we’ve been doing for the past year,” said singer/guitarist Brady. “But we’re excited to be able to sit down and play the songs for what they are and not have to worry so much about all the tones or loudness or energy; we want people to get to feel the songs for what they are and to feel the songs for how they were when we first wrote them, how we first conveyed them.”

A song like the title track from their 2018 EP Matador is a minimalist acoustic ballad with thundering background rhythms and a bit of country twang. Breathtaking vocals sing about slowing down. Today, their latest singles demonstrate their range, as tracks like “Last Train” are almost arena-rock ready with a lot of fiery crescendos through the soaring choruses. But where does a group like these three brothers “fit,” in terms of genre? Here they are, a group with rock instrumentation, coming to a mecca for acoustic folk music… Maybe Americana?

Staying true

“I think ‘Americana’ is such a fluid genre,” said Brady. “You’ll hear a band like Wilco, but also Mavis Staples, two distinct artists, but still all part of the family of Americana. I think we fit into it because we want to stay true to the stories of each of our songs, and we want to stay true to the connectivity of it, connecting is the only reason I’m writing songs–to share with people.”

Americana also allows them to travel between sonic and stylistic stations along the spectrum, from anthemic pop, to stripped down country-tinged odes. Brady said that it speaks to the three of them putting all of their personalities into the creative process together: “…because there’s part of us that likes to have a lot of fun, but there’s also the part of us that likes to have the listener feel the emotion in a real deep and heavy way, and I’m glad we can just naturally do that.”

They are a source restoration and encouragement for each other. “(Touring) can be a hard thing to muster the strength for,” said Brady. “But if you’re doing it with your friends, with your brothers, it turns it into a much more enjoyable experience. We’re powering through this together; we’re in it for the long-run. We know that the work is the travel, but the fun part is playing the shows.”

In the living room

Two of the latest singles from the brothers’ Stablein were recorded in living rooms, both in Canada. Both strike the imagery of big skies, wide open roads— just a grandness, really— captured in a domestic setting. Spacious, yet intimate. That might be Brother Elsey’s magic at its purest.

Coming up, while not wanting to share too much, Brady assures that this will be a big year for them, with an EP coming in a few months that is “our most cohesive project, yet, and some incredible songs that we’ve been working on for a long time.”

Trending

Artist Spotlight: Kenyatta Rashon Sparks Self-Confidence through Song

We spoke with Ypsi-based artist Kenyatta Rashon about imbuing her lyrics with self-confidence and inspiring her fans to trust in their abilities and assertiveness.

Vibe over Genre: May Erlewine & the Woody Goss Band’s ‘Anyway’

We chatted with Woody Goss and May Erlewine about the creative process, and about how vibe supersedes genre. Plus the premiere of their newest single, “Anyway”

Venue Spotlight: The Ann Arbor District Library

The Ann Arbor District Library’s staff observed the progressing spread of COVID-19 with a keen eye towards optimal safety measures. Like all libraries, it remained closed for the duration of the three-month period of Michigan’s shelter-at-home executive order, to curtail the spread of the virus. But Sherlonya Turner says that while their staff certainly considered

Venue Spotlight: Ziggy’s in Ypsi

While Ypsilanti’s beloved Ziggy’s isn’t quite ready to open, we talk to David Jeffries about the recent bit of good news about reopening when the timing’s right.