There is not much in terms of bio for Elder. He grew up in Dublin, has seen the world and is now based between Dublin and Berlin. Indeed it’s hard to establish if Elder is a moniker as I thought or his name. The name though seems to fit perfectly the sound of Elder’s music. With a foundation in roots, his style moves and stretches the genre to leave you unprepared for what’s coming around the corner next.
Elder got his break though Damien Dempsey. After meeting him in a bar, Damien was the man who got him up on stage at the International in Dublin. Elder ended up sharing the stage with Damien Rice, Paddy Casey and Luka Bloom. Not a bad start. The background of Elder is so mysterious that I’m not sure if his 2009 release “Nobody Knows” was his first album or not. Nevertheless the album is a collection of 12 songs full of atmosphere. One thing that you can say for Elder is that he is a talent at creating a mood. The whole album from start to finish definitely takes you down a creepy dark road and leaves you there. Highlights like “Dark Place” give you a taste of the setting.
The songs veer between dark and bright. Songs like “Shine” and “Diamond” are a lot more poppy than the other tracks on the album and all the better for it. A quote on Elder’s website mentions the lazy comparisons to Tom Waits and his ability being a lot more singular than that. Saying that, the comparison should be made. Many of these songs are reminiscent of Tom Waits but I think another milestone is Lou Reed. The versatility of those songs from “Nobody Knows” suggests a man that is comfortable not being tied down to one genre or style.
The new EP “Simple Melody” was launched late last year and it is definitely a step up. If the previous release was atmospheric then this release is drowning in it. The lead single “Kerry Black Mountain” is seething in broodiness. The refrain “Gimme love now” sounds more like a demand than a request. With the big brass presence and that single piano note that always adds a momentum to any song, the melody and words combine to leave you wanting to hear it all over again.
An E.P heavy on a big sound, the addition of brass adds real impetuous to the record, it’s a real pleasure to enjoy. If I was to come close to labelling it it’s like gothic-blues/americana. Whatever you want to call it, Elder Roche has definitely taken a step forward with “Nobody Knows”. It’s some gothic soul that you can dance to.