Singer-songwriters have had a battle on to stop that term from being a dirty word (or should that be words?). Blokes with guitars have clogged up the charts and now Ed Sheeran is one of the biggest global stars. That's great for all the Ben Howards of this world, but other more interesting artists have been tarred with the same brush and perhaps not given the exposure they deserve due to not aiming for the mainstream. Although this year's end of year polls have been possibly the most predictable, safe and dire in recent memory, they have included some good stuff in places. Two artists that have appeared high up in just about everyone's view are Sufjan Stevens and Father John Misty. Blokes with guitars are reclaiming their ground.
Eucrid Elms is the alias of Danish singer-songwriter Esben Hansen, and while he may be a bloke with a guitar, his music belongs to the alternative world and doesn't rely on basic backing and predictable formulas. His second EP,'Strange Lights', contains some very good songs. The track 'Strange Lights' whips up an atmosphere that post-rock groups would be proud of and contains plenty of depth along with production that gives a haunted quality. It's expansive without aiming for a stadium sheen and listenable without being overly commercial. The dynamic to move from dreamy moments to louder, alt-rock pieces is a testament to his writing ability. 'Silent Waves' also shifts around, not following a set pattern and contains some nice subtle touches - it ends up with an almost epic sound. Lastly, '259' takes that spaciousness and uses it to offer up something more intimate with intermittent blasts of harder electric guitar. It's an wistful and emotional way to end.
We asked Esben to talk us through the three songs on 'Strange Lights':
"1. 'Strange Lights':
This is the first single from the EP and the writing of the song marks the change of sound since the debut EP 'After the Illusion'. The song is carried by a slow, lazy and dry drum beat and simple melodies on electric guitar by lead guitarist Michael Bjerre. The lyrics are a fragmented journey in pictures and the idea is to make the listener create his/her own pictures in the head. The two verses are about subjects such as fear of death and the random order and appearance of objects and feelings, but the song ends out in a hopeful recognition of love and human rebellion. I had listened a lot to Beck's 'Morning Phase' record and Thurston Moore's 'Demolished Thoughts' when I wrote it.
2. 'Silent Waves':
This song is more upbeat with percussion, chorus/reverb guitars and church-like distorted choir vocals by singer Anja Lahrmann (Ice Cream Cathedral). It ends out in a fire of distorted guitars and synthesizers. 'Silent Waves' is in many ways a simple love song about getting to know your own weaknesses as a human being and leaving a state of depression with the help of music, literature and love from another human being. It's about leaving a feeling of numbness for a feeling of ecstasy.
This song has a mystical title and I don't want to reveal what it means, I see it as my own little secret! The idea behind this song was to write a song to describe the last seven days before the end of the world. I wrote the song after an experience I had in Lisbon where heavy rain suddenly came and destroyed many of the beautiful, steep streets. The two loud, distorted "choruses" without vocals can be seen as a way to describe the violent revenge of nature as it suddenly shows its power."
Eucrid Elms' website