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Liner Notes

Elijah Ocean From LA To Nashville With New Album, “Born Blue”

Elijah Ocean
Wolfe & Von
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Elijah Ocean

Elijah Ocean From LA To Nashville With New Album, “Born Blue”

Nashville’s home these days, but Maine native Elijah Ocean headed to Brooklyn, then Los Angeles before settling here. This new collection, Born Blue sounds like he’s been in Music City all along, or at least listening to the music that’s been coming out of Nashville for decades. Hints of older, more traditional influences mixed with modern sounds make these twelve songs unique, interesting and engaging while staying true to the twang. He’s been releasing singles ahead of today’s full album release. I asked Elijah about the new album, an album he released last year with a similar feel and how the town's treating him so far.

AnaLee: Welcome to Nashville, Elijah! I guess you’ve been here for a little bit, I noticed a song on your Blue Jeans & Barstools album called “I Left My One Spot (Back at the 5 Spot)” … released last May, still early in the pandemic. Were you living here already or still in Los Angeles then? If you would, tell us about your journey from LA to Nashville and making the new record, Born Blue.

Elijah: Thanks! Great to be here. I just moved to town this March, but have been coming through regularly since 2012. I would pretty much play the 5 Spot every time and so I kinda wrote that one about my experiences there as a touring act. I started recording Born Blue in LA in the spring of ‘18, but had been working on the songs and the ideas for the style for several years leading up to that, so it was a long time coming. I did a handful of basic tracking days at Station House Studio in Echo Park with my band, then during the pandemic was able to do a lot of the overdubs from home. Longtime Nashville engineer/producer Julian King mixed the whole thing last summer and really brought it to life. I packed up the van at the end of February ‘21 and drove out here alone - basically just looking for a fresh start, which I found. Been very busy in town the last several months and it’s been great.

AnaLee: This new collection sounds like it could be a continuation of last year’s release, with its 90s country feel. I went back and listened to several of your earlier releases and I can hear some 60s California folk and country-rock vibes, like the Byrds, Gram Parsons, Neil Young - which I still hear in these new songs but there was a shift towards the twang and it all comes together on Born Blue, for another twelve relatable songs with catchy melodies. Both albums have 12 tracks each, that’s a lot of finished songs in a seemingly short amount of time. Are you always writing, or has this weird time we’ve been living in been a particularly creative time for you?

Elijah: I write on and off but always end up with a lot of songs. Last year’s release was actually mostly demos that didn’t make the cut for Born Blue. I felt like I wanted to use them to test the waters a little, as it is kind of a new sound.

AnaLee: I really love this album Elijah, and I can’t believe I didn’t know about you before now. As an independent artist, what’s been the biggest challenge for you during the past year and a half? On the flip side of that, I’ve had some artists tell me the forced downtime allowed for a sort of reset and refocus, was it like that at all for you?

Elijah: Thanks! I’m glad. The biggest challenge has probably been dealing with depression. I’m much busier now, but I went from playing out all the time to being stuck at home and not being very social. Really strange year, obviously. I was still able to be productive and creative but it felt like I was a retiree or something - getting obsessed with little projects and stuff. Everything is different now being in another state in a new home and routine etc. So definitely a reset.

AnaLee: In the song, “Thirty-Five” you sing about being thirty-five and acting twenty-two… I’m a lot older than that and I love this song, I certainly don’t act or feel my age, whatever that means anyway… this is just such a fun, totally relatable jam. I included a link to it below and to another of the pre-album single releases, “The Ice Machine”, a more contemplative song but still with that gorgeous pedal steel. Would you tell us a little about these two songs?

 Elijah: Sure. I wrote “Thirty-Five” in a hotel room in Las Vegas after I lost a bunch of money playing cards. It was a very memorable day haha. I was walking around town hungover and looking for food just making up the lines in my head. I ended up getting Brent Mason to play guitar on it so that was pretty cool. He nailed the vibe. I can’t really remember when I wrote “The Ice Machine” or how I came up with it at all. It’s the story of a guy in the hallway of a hotel confessing to an inanimate object that he’s about to cheat on his wife. I thought it was funny and sad at the same time, which is a line I like to straddle when I can. My good friend Philip Sterk played steel on that. He’s awesome.

AnaLee: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions today, Elijah, I wish you all the success with Born Blue and I hope you can get back out on the road soon to take this music out to the world.

Elijah: My pleasure! Thank you so much. I will see you around.

“Thirty-Five”

“The Ice Machine”

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