Um, Uh Oh
Seattle musician Eric Elbogen is back with another LP of material, appearing as his Say Hi project on the Barsuk imprint. Once again, he plays most of the instruments himself, crafting adroit layers of keyboards, guitars, and percussion in arrangements that certainly have the potency of many a full band’s studio renditions.
But unlike some of his earlier songs, this time out the subject matter isn’t quite so light-hearted. The focus is often matters of the heart; in particular, the times when said matters involve unrequited love or desire from afar. Indeed, one can hear flashes of bitterness and regret in the singer-songwriter’s voice. It’s as if Elbogen is channeling early Elvis Costello’s frequent sneers and snarls into a highly distilled version of postmodern indie angst. This is particularly evident in his ballads. Based on the wrenching delivery the singer adopts in the alt-folk song “Bruises to Prove It,” one can certainly believe the title’s claim of Elbogen’s pain.
Still, all hope isn’t lost on Um, Uh Oh. “Devils” mounts a sultry, feisty, mid tempo groove. On the rollicking up tempo number “Take Ya’ Dancin,’” Elbogen drops the ironic stance and instead adopts a jaunty swagger and woos his intended like a rock star.