Elliott Brood w/ Ben Knight & The Welldiggers at MOTR Pub Nov 7

Elliott Brood
Elliott Brood

Elliott Brood with Ben Knight & The Welldiggers
MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St, Cincinnati, OH
10pm, 21+, Free

Formed in 2002, Elliott Brood (the name, a bastardized homage to the fem fatal character in the 1984 Baseball film The Natural) united teenage pals Mark Sasso and Casey Laforet over their grown-up love for Neil Young, The Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Stephen Pitkin was an accidental miracle: he fell into the group after working sound at one of their earliest concerts, offering to record their first EP, Tin TypeTin Type was a college radio hit and soon this compact trio was making some big noise. Across five subsequent albums, sharing vocals and trading instruments – each of the band-members seems to play everything – Elliott Brood have become one of the premier acts in Canadian roots music. Work and Love  their latest off October 21st, 2014 on Paper Bag Records.

Their 2008 release, Mountain Meadows was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize, and the band’s subsequent record, Days Into Years, won a 2011 Juno Award for Roots Album of the Year, both co-produced with John Critchley.

With this new record, Elliott Brood decided to hand over the reins to a producer: Ian Blurton, who has helped make roaring records for the Weakerthans, Skydiggers and Cursed. “Work and love will make a man out of you,” the Constantines sang; and so here is Elliott Brood’s Work and Love, their most personal album to date, the sound of a grown-up band searching their hearts for all they’ve lost and gained.

Laforet, Sasso and Pitkin recorded Work and Love in the cold spring of 2014. They deserted their families and holed up in the Tragically Hip‘s Bathhouse Studio, scarcely emerging – waking and playing and playing and playing, one song a day. Elliott Brood had “played it safe” for four records, they claim: Blurton sharpened their sound, weathered and interrogated it, forced the three musicians to confront their own habits. And it made for a full-length that gestures toward the Hip and the Cons as much as it does to Richard Buckner and Whiskeytown. Adding dimension to select tracks on the album, the band is joined by Aaron Goldtein (City and Colour, Daniel Ramano) on pedal steel and John Dinsmore (Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer) on bass (for “Each Other’s Kids”).

Laforet has called Work and Love a “lament for youth”, but it’s also a eulogy for the moments that came just after, on the doorstep of manhood. It’s music of remembered abandon, new burdens, and those nights, years ago, when the moonlit fields seemed to go on forever. It’s Elliott Brood at their sheerest, facing forward and backward at the same time.