Coloradan songwriter Wolf van Elfmand’s music has always had a western flair. This remains true in his newest album All Blue released in February, but he also incorporates what the title suggests: the blues.
Many of the tracks are cool and steady like a long lost J.J. Cale gem, but incorporate improvisation and musical playfulness, like in the opening track “We Don’t Gotta Leave Today.” The spaces between the melody and simple chord structures leave comfortable spaces for the harmonica, steel pedal guitar, and lead guitar to add conversational nuances to the texture.
Whether the songs feel upbeat or laid back, the blues surround them with melancholy. The minor key harmonies in “Sweet Regret” and the whining of pedal steel guitar pull the song in a gloomy direction while van Elfmand’s story of bitter heartbreak drives home the dark atmosphere.
Van Elfmand’s sound across the album is consistent, leaning on lightly driving, sad Americana vibes to tell his stories, but the track that stands out the most is “Take A Little Sadness.” While the rest of the album uses more acoustic and clean instrumentation, this song starts off with a more obvious drum-machine and uses heavy distortion across the track. The songwriting aesthetic remains the same with Americana grooves, but the song sounds blocky and rooted in rock like something that could have been recorded by The Black Keys.
The bluesy sounds van Elfmand intertwines in his music compliment a modern western vibe that will make listeners feel like exploring the frontier as they drive through the mountains or across the eastern plains on I-25.