For its first album, Elliot Root could have easily pulled songs from the band’s three EPs and filled out the collection by tacking on a few new recordings.
That patchwork-style scenario did not appeal to singer-guitarist Scott Krueger, who wanted his Nashville, Tennessee-based quartet’s full-length debut “to have a full picture” and be “a connected, cohesive piece of art that felt like a traditional-style album.”
“With an EP,” Krueger explains, “I feel like you’re more inclined to try to put those single-type songs or more palatable songs on there because it’s such a short storyline. Our EPs are a snapshot of where we were at that moment and the beginning stages of us getting comfortable as a band.
“When you have an album,” he adds, “I feel like you can have some of those B-side tracks that people are more willing to delve into when there is a single-type song supporting it or getting attention.”
Formed in 2009, Elliot Root — currently Krueger, keyboardist-drum programmer Melissa Mattey, guitarist Todd Bond and drummer Sean Truskowski — devoted 2016 to making Conjure, released Aug. 25 via E.R. Recordings/Thirty Tigers. Krueger, Mattey (who joined the band around the time of the first EP, released in 2014) and Tony High (the band’s concert engineer) all had a hand in the production.
“It’s been a lot more collaborative and less of a hierarchy than I think most producer situations become,” says Krueger. “When Melissa and Tony started working with the band and became permanent members of the team, they never exerted their experience over my head in any way. They came in and took a collaborative approach and let me grow as a writer and as an artist while we were working. And fortunately, we were able to do that over the EPs leading into the album, so by the time we hit the album, it was really comfortable and an honest space to operate it. Nobody was pushing anybody in ways that they didn’t need to be pushed.”
The song on Conjure that’s attracting attention is the unguarded, piano-based “10,000,” the album’s first single. Krueger says the lyrics came to him after he’d made several flights that were related to band business.
“I already have a weird fear and anxiety about flying,” he adds, “and it just happened to coincide with some anxieties and fears over taking the next step in our career and getting more serious about it. I would be daydreaming a lot while I was flying — in these strange headspaces, caught up worrying, but also being hopeful and really reflecting a lot.
“I thought it would be fun for me to have a little nod to a hidden fear I have — which isn’t so hidden anymore,” he says with a laugh.
— By Chris M. Junior
Elliot Root on tour (schedule subject to change):
• Sept. 2: Live on the Green Festival — Nashville, Tennessee
• Sept. 16: Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion — Bristol, Virginia
• Sept. 29: Wheeler Opera House — Aspen Colorado
• Oct. 2: The Duling Hall — Jackson, Mississippi
• Oct. 4: Varsity Theatre — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
• Oct. 5: Tipitina’s Uptown — New Orleans
• Oct. 10: The Vanguard — Tulsa, Oklahoma
• Oct. 11: Granada Theatre — Lawrence, Kansas
• Oct. 12: Blue Note — Columbia, Missouri
• Oct. 17: Vinyl Music Hall — Pensacola, Florida
• Oct. 19: Druid City Music Hall — Tuscaloosa, Alabama
• Oct. 20: The Concourse — Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo by Matthew Simmons