Album Review: Eli Young Band’s ‘Fingerprints’
For nearly two decades, Eli Young Band have been sharing their music with the masses. The Texas-based band return to their roots on their fourth major label release Fingerprints, due out June 16. Together for 17 years now, Eli Young Band are well aware of who they are as a band and this confidence is showcased throughout their album. Additionally, the band had a hand in writing eight of the album’s 11 tracks which gives the record a more personal feel. Co-produced by Eli Young Band with Ross Copperman and Jeremy Stover, Fingerprints will surely satisfy longtime fans hoping for a return to the sound that made them first fall in love with the country band.
The first single, “Saltwater Gospel,” was just a hint of what’s to come on the release from the Texas act. The feel-good beach spiritual highlights front-man Mike Eli’s warm vocals alongside memorable percussion and striking harmonies as he sings of how he often finds his church at the water’s edge. The title track, “Fingerprints,” follows suit and proves to be a surefire hit in the live setting with gritty guitar parts, Eli’s soaring vocals and a sing along chorus that begs the listener to hit the repeat button.
Well known for their poignant ballads, there is no shortage of songs that hit the heart on Fingerprints. Standout “Skin and Bones” has already made a wave on SiriusXM and it’s easy to see why. Written by Eli, Phil Barton and Lori McKenna about the singer’s wife, Kacey, the song details of how his partner is intertwined throughout every step of his life.
“She’s in my skin and bones / She’s grace and glory / She’s the back roads home / She’s a long story / The one goodbye that I can’t even imagine / She’s a well thought out plan and I don’t know how it happened,” he sings on the track.
“So many of the songs we were writing and connecting with felt personal,” Eli says of the record. “So many songs came from a place of passion and something I just really wanted to say. Walking into the writing room with Phil Barton and Lori McKenna was such a treat. I felt in my gut we were gonna walk out of that room with a special song, and it turns out we did. My wife and I have been together for a lot of years now, and there comes a point where so much of who you are is intertwined and connected. You sometimes lose that line of where they end and you begin.”
The yearning “The Days I Feel Alone” also strikes a chord as Eli sings about the struggles life on the road can have on a musician being away from loved ones. Although it’s difficult, he’s doing it to provide a good life for his family. “If burning roads at both ends is what I gotta do / I know it’s worth the leavin’ to give the world to you / So I carry on, on the days I feel alone,” he reasons. The driving guitar parts and wavering pedal steel only add to the song’s emotion.
“Old Songs,” meanwhile, recalls previous fan favorite “Always the Love Songs.” Added backing vocals from Carolyn Dawn Johnson and light harmonica accompaniment provide a unique element to the song, which discusses how music often allows one to be transported to a different time and place when a familiar track from years past is played. Later, Johnson will reappear on the beautiful ballad “God Love the Rain,” written by Eli, Erik Dylan and Jason Nix. A striking song, “God Love the Rain” soothes the listener as Eli sings softly of an unforgettable stormy August night.
While Eli Young Band pull on the heartstrings throughout much of the album, they also kick up the energy. Radio friendly track “Drive” recalls the teenage years where you worked to save enough money for a tank of gas to cruise around on a Friday night. “Nothin’ makes us feel like sweet sixteen / Like hands on the wheel of that time machine / We got two white lines, the night is blue and black / We may never grow up, we may never come back,” Eli sings.
A standout release, Eli Young Band’s Fingerprints will no doubt have longtime fans satisfied upon first listen. The 11 songs featured showcase what the band does best — perform songs that leave a lasting mark and remind us all of the more important things in life. Whether it’s a moment of reflection, reminiscing or transporting us to another time, Eli Young Band’s Fingerprints is both relatable, enjoyable and a welcomed addition to the country genre.