For now Nashville-based singer-songwriter Elijah Ocean, it all started with “The Writing on the Wall.”
Several years ago, inspiration hit Ocean while in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Festival. This specific artistic touch then sparked an album unlike anything Ocean had written before. So, tucked away in an Airbnb years ago, the debut of his most recent album, Born blue (released August 13), emerged.
Born blue breaks with the more folkloric albums of Ocean and flies over classic country influences of the 80s and 90s. It is Ocean’s call back to the neo-traditional movement of country and western music. Ocean was also particularly influenced by Bobby Bare’s previous record of 1977. Me and McDill.
“I kind of went down a rabbit hole with it all,” Ocean told the American songwriter. “And that continued to inspire my writing and [I] started incorporating some of these songs into my live show. It was a slow evolution, but I ended up writing about 30 songs that kind of fit that style.
Once his song bank started to fill up, Ocean reached out to Brian Whelan (former member of Dwight Yoakam’s band) to help him work out the finer points of his songs. Next, Ocean moved her unique batch of songs to her home recording studio and worked with Julian King to complete the production. This long process has totaled the most work Ocean has put in a record so far. Ocean reveals it’s the “best thing” he’s done so far. “It sounds like a statement,” he confirms.
The twelve titles on Born blue exude a timeless country vibe. Ocean’s irresistible swagger with a touch of twang produces a record that’s a cut above most. Diving into the songs, the title track is the heart of the album and perhaps the deepest of the group. Plus, “‘Honky Tonk Hole’ is basically about someone who dreams of being a rock star or something when they’re young. Then as they get older all they do is play in bars, ”says Ocean.
“’Thirty-Five’ is all about gambling addiction. I mean, I wrote this song in Las Vegas the day after I wasted a lot of money gambling,” Ocean continues. ” There is a lot of [other] stories in [Born Blue] to lose love and stuff like that.
Overall it’s an album about getting old while still enjoying the good life. “It’s an expression of my life for the past eight years or so,” says Ocean. “I hope some of the melodies get stuck in [listeners’] heads. I think these are pretty catchy songs.
Listen to Elijah Ocean Born blue album below.