Updated: Nov 28, 2022
The Company You Keep
Brooklyn, United States
The latest album from Elizabeth P.W., ‘The Company You Keep’, is an American Country classic in the making. With heavy jazz, blues and bluegrass influence the songs on ‘The Company You Keep’ revolve around Elizabeth P.W.’s storytelling songwriting style. It listens like a book. Each song deals with a situation or time in one's life. From relationship struggles to the pride of being a forerunner for your family, the album captures modern-day Americana with such soul and melody. It's a warm soup on a winter's day or a square dance in summer. Whatever makes you feel illuminated is replicated in sound within these songs.
A banjo and its plucked melody signal the start of the feel-good-album on ‘Chosen Heart’. When the drums and guitar and bass join in it’s a bubbling wave of blues. The song is sombre but backed by such instrumental glee that it's a sweet sorrow. Letting a bird fly free as the metaphor goes. Elizabeth P.W. captures the ecstasy of a good ol’ sigh in ‘Chosen Heart’ and it hits deep in your core. ‘Black & Blue’ arrives at your door next with its woodwinds and acoustic backing. The drums are richer here, and the whole sound is more modern but doesn’t lose that emotive quality present throughout the album. The harmonies on display here are beautifully human. If they were corrected via autotune, I can't hear it. The textures of the voices meet like old friends and climb 3rds and 5ths with efficient ease. The harmonies come and go on every track and aid in building the sound without resorting to synths or pads to do so. It's all-natural in ‘The Company You Keep’ which keeps the sound grounded and ever more impressive.
The title track definitely earned its place as the herald for the sounds within the album. ‘The Company You Keep’ refines the E.P.W. sound to a T and collects tones from the 4 corners of American country influence, distilling them into a song that simply has to be listened to. From the instrumental complexity to the harmonies, the catchy chorus and the storytelling lyrics. No complaints only praise.
The album shifts into gear after setting you up with the band's sound. ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Medicine’ feel modern and make great use of the band's instrumental prowess to aid the melody and its story. ‘Brooklyn’ in particular has a wild finish that feels like friendship. ‘If I’m Ever Happy’ is a song that questions intentions and uses inventive percussion to catch your ear and hold it tenderly. It passes you on to the gentle tones of the songs to come. ‘Give You Love’, a thank you to the feeling, piano reigns supreme in this jazzy ballad. ‘Call It’ is old-school cool, Springsteen Blues with trumpets and slow bass. Organ keys tinkle in the back and it is tonal bliss.
The last three songs on the album begin to peel away the bigger sound to reveal the songwriting complexity beneath. ‘Someone Who Believes in You’ with its quiet guitar/vocal duet, ‘Looking Sideways’ with its simpler melody and pulsing instrumental that follows the vox. Finally ‘Home’, the closer. It's warm and dances in the autumn rain. Teeming with emotion the song holds focus on the centre vocal which anyone will fall in love with after listening to this album. A fantastic end, one that speaks of good times to come through a hopeful glimpse into the past.
Elizabeth P.W.’s ‘The Company You Keep’ was not at all what I was expecting, and I was pleasantly surprised. For a sound of such complexity to not get lost in the skill, but the emotion is a pleasure to listen to. Each song feels not crafted but nurtured like a child. It has a story to tell and it's big enough to tell us
itself. Stunning from start to finish, wrought with crisp harmonies, amazing strings, woodwinds that steal your breath and drums that flicker and dance on the beat. A kiss blown to a loved one as they depart from the platform on the last train to the Golden Land.