Fueled by a sordid real-life backdrop of good old fashioned suicides, murders, and alcoholic depravity followed by church on Sunday, Elouise is an eccentric collaboration of Los Angeles-based musicians who came together to create an ominous, raw and cinematic genre of music they identify as Blackgrass. It is the sound of sin and salvation mixed in a dark cocktail with a taste of Bluegrass, a black symphonic sound and weary emotional vocals that tell original tales of struggle and re-imagine songs from our collective Americana consciousness.
Using a mix of Classical and Bluegrass instrumentation combined with an array of eclectic instruments including the marxophone, six-string banjo, bandoneon and harmonium, Elouise layers their sound with dark and beautifully dramatic European strings like the cello and double bass. This idea of low end drone and virtuosic strings combined with sounds from traditional Bluegrass instrumentation is the signature sound of Elouise and Blackgrass. Add in world-weary and guttural vocals paired with instruments like the bandoneon (which produces one of the saddest sounds imaginable) and you get a musical experience that captures a distinctly original, emotionally fraught and unforgettable sound.
Elouise deconstructs and re-imagines classic songs like Amazing Grace, I’ll Fly Away and the sweaty revival tent of Fire and Brimstone (which sounds like an old Alan Lomax field recording) shaking these old chestnuts to their bones, revealing an underbelly of the darkness of Americana standards and turning them into a booze-sodden cry from America’s trailer park soul. Shadow of the Pines pays homage to Bluegrass royals, The Carter Family, with a slower tempo and a musically re-envisioned version of the original, mixing traditional Bluegrass instrumentation with the lonely and weary vocals of Elouise Walker, creating a desperate and beautiful love song reminiscent of early Bluegrass anthologies. Silent Night, a single that debuted around the holidays, is an age-old standard transformed into Elouise’s Blackgrass rendition with swirling strings, menacing vocal and six-string banjo topped off with a culmination of wailing hallelujahs that earned the praise of Blurt, Folk Radio U.K. and 50Thirdand3rd. The songs and recitations in Deep Water are haunting and beautiful, deviant and desperate sonic explorations that stretch the boundaries of Americana Music.