Local Review: Elle and The Echo – The Unknown
Local Music Reviews
Elle and The Echo
Elle and The Echo = Margo Price + Big Thief
Elle and The Echo are as talented and soulful as they are mysterious. There’s little information to be found about the band online; I wasn’t even certain if their title alluded to an entire band of musicians or just a singular artist, but their Instagram seems to belong to the lead singer (who I assume is Elle). Four or five other musicians on varying string and key instruments can be seen performing in a few photos, as well. If you were to search their name on any streaming service, no written bio would be found, just their 2021 release, The Unknown. Though there is little to be known about the group—as foretold in the EP’s title—The Unknown is introduction enough, emphasizing Elle and The Echo’s undeniable ability to create dynamic, old-school, country-rock sounds and rhythms.
Opening track “Angels” sets a high standard for the rest of the songs to maintain. The first few seconds transport the listener to a traditional Western landscape, tumbleweeds limping forward in the hot wind. The outlaw country instrumentals create a smooth introduction as the vocals come bounding through in a deep, breathy and muddled delivery. They warn “Wherever you are / Lay down now” in a way that feels both cautionary and pleading. The lyrics continue with, “And I’m calling all our angels down / I’m calling all our angels now,” emboldening through repetition in each verse.
The second track, “L.A.,” shifts in sound, still producing a collection of guitar twang akin to the first track but now with the addition of a much lighter, softer accompaniment of keys and strings. I found the vocals in “L.A.” especially timeless and evocative with an abundance of grit and soul, specifically in the verse: “There was pain in my heart / Now that we’re gone, we ain’t running / Oh, Lord, I was in prison / Now I know just what I was missing.”
“Hellfire” was the most popular song out of the five, and its catchiness and traditional, honky-tonk nature made it easy to sing along: “Well, I got fire in my soul / I got fire, fire, fire in my soul / When I’ve finally had enough / Pack my shit, acted tough / Said bye you motherfucker, I’m gone!” Lively and catchy with its whoops and hollers, the simplistic storytelling of an angry, country heroine seeking retribution is a musical trope I didn’t know I craved.
The two final tracks, “Love To Give” and “Unknown,” prove to be more ballad-driven, with Elle’s vocal style carrying significant weight and prowess. While themes of love and bitterness may not be unique to country music, Elle and The Echo have produced sounds that somehow feel individual in a genre that seems to have already said it all. “Unknown” especially slows things down, offering long, instrumental pauses that draw out the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the narrator’s words as they sing about their readiness for death and the unknown. Everything comes together at the four-minute mark in a musical buildup of steady, heavy drum beats, rough guitar riffs and vocal pleading. Elle and The Echo’s The Unknown is a powerful EP that deserves recognition. Whether or not they wish to stay more or less unknown, I can only hope that they’ll release more music to satiate their listeners. –Jamie Christensen