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 Elliott Brood – Work And Love 
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Post  Elliott Brood – Work And Love
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When it comes to gothic style indie, Canadian folk act Elliott Brood has been leading the charge for the duration of their existence.  Their weathered brand of raspy earth-toned vocals leaves quite the lasting impression.  The band, however, has always played to a particular niche, with a general darkness defining even their sunniest output.  But their most recent full length, Work And Love, is about to change that.  This time around the trio has lightened up their outlook, in the process making for a more accessible product that would have sounded out of place on earlier albums like Mountain Meadows.
Consequently, long time listeners will likely find themselves with their guard up during Work And Love’s first few tracks.  But given a few minutes to let this new reality sink in, skeptics will likely grow to embrace the not-so-subtle change in tone, and the optimism embraced therein.
“Little Ones” opens the disc with the cheerful application of country optimism and front porch twang.  With a working class, aged wisdom the band speaks to the innocence of childhood.  “Little ones, playing outside far from the road,” sings Mark Sasso in his weathered way, connecting imagery to message as he  “working so fast at growing old, you should all stay little ones, we should all stay little ones, and never be bitter ones.”  The message of taking a break from the fast lane and enjoying life’s passing scenery is made all the more intriguing in part by the subtle horn accents and light dusting of piano that only those who are truly mindful of their soundscape will pick up on.
As Work And Love plays out, Elliot Brood stays true to their roots while opening up their sound to what could potentially be an expanding audience.  Fans can be assured that the weathered meets clean vocal combo of Casey Laforet and Mark Sasso is as alive as ever.  Tracks like “Tired” and “Nothing Left” might sound a tad more “country” than in the past, but they do so in a way that it still sounds like Elliott Brood playing Elliott Brood, rather than Elliott Brood playing straight up country.  This isn’t Luke Doucet, but it’s leaning more in that direction than say, O’Brother.  The trick comes in part thanks to the instruments that the band plucks for various tunes.  For instance, the steadfast mandolin rhythm on “Jigsaw Heart” distances the song from any mainstream cliches, while the jangle of church bells and lone trumpet of “Mission Bell” ushers in a vaguely spaghetti western touch.  The band’s gothic undertone may no longer take centre stage anymore, but its essence resides in everything on Work And Love.

As the album progresses, the initial element of childhood fades into memory and the experience of adulthood takes hold.  By the time “Better Times” rolls on through, lines like “The times are changing, better times will come,” have replaced the pastel vibrancy of memory with an audible pallet closer to washed out earth tones.  Work And Love plays with both maturity in songwriting and lyrical sophistication.
With Work And Love, Elliott Brood has successfully transitioned to a broader audience without giving up the distinctive markers that first put them on the map.  The album may no longer sound as if recorded in a dank barn during a full moon, but as Work And Loves makes inextricably clear, life moves on and change happens.  Elliott Brood embraces their evolution, defining their present reality as a deserving stop along the crossing of their career.

Published on 2014-12-03 7:30pm GMT

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04 Dec 2014, 10:07
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