Amid the din of modernity comes the sound of a new idea, an idea in the not unattractive shape of a band by the name of Daniel Ellsworth and The Great Lakes. Or, more precisely, in the shape of the honest but audacious sound that has come to define their music. Now, mind you, we’re not talking about simple reminiscence here, and Ellsworth’s songs are certainly not throwbacks, but there’s a sense of (dare I say it?) timelessness and even wonder to the melodies and the distinctive voice that drives them.
Though they now call Nashville their home, the members of The Great Lakes hail from across our great nation (Joel, drummer, Wichita, KS; Marshall, bass guitar, Columbus, OH; Timon, regular guitar, Youngstown, OH; Daniel, everything else, Minneapolis, MN), bringing with them (besides their clothes and stuff) a unique mélange of stories and the diverse cultures of their respective hometowns. Their new, self-produced album, Civilized Man, recorded by Mark Nevers (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Andrew Bird, Yo La Tengo) at Beech House in Nashville, TN, is itself something of a departure from the singer / songwriter category of the rest of Ellsworth’s catalog. As the first official release from the band, it represents a fresh start musically- a whole new set of influences, from The Talking Heads to Wilco, is welcomed into the mix.
When all is said and done, what most of us need is a distraction from distraction, a reminder of the things (and the people, for some of us) that we love. Daniel Ellsworth and The Great Lakes, through the songs and through the stories, provides just that. Theirs is the sort of music that suggests (maybe without actually coming out and saying it) that you stop and smell the roses or, if you really, truly can’t afford to spare those precious seconds, then at least to enjoy the pleasant, rosy blur that they form in your periphery as you sprint by.