One of the most rewarding (but equally frustrating) parts of reviewing music for this site is that there’s so many artists that deserve far more credit for their craft than what the mainstream publications are willing to offer.
In a fair and just world, Elijah Newman & The SideEffects would be a household name and they’d be playing sold out shows all over the country. Elijah would be recognized as a poet. Alas, this is not a fair and just world, so I’m taking it upon myself to trumpet praise for an EP I’ve grown to fall madly in love with.
Elijah wears his love for all things for Americana prominently and proudly on his sleeve in every song he writes. If you can imagine Bruce Springsteen covering The Gaslight Anthem with No Use For A Name backing him, you’d have “Free Born;” the EP’s title track. It’s a refreshing little track that would pair perfectly with a long ride down Route 66 with a car full of friends singing along to your custom-made sing-along playlist.
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“The Flipside” carries with it a sense of longing for how things once were but an acceptance for how things are now. Elijah’s ability to write lyrics designed to tear at your emotions are on full display here, as he plucks on your heartstrings like a well-played guitar to set the rhythm of this fantastic track. Full disclosure, my “Superman” was my grandfather. This song made me contemplate on my time with him quite a bit. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel myself getting a little emotional while listening to this track a few times.
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“What Did You Say?” could comfortably exist on your favorite ’90s Spotify playlist, and you wouldn’t blink an eye. If you are looking for something with a little more “kick,” “Cold Call” has you covered. While the song isn’t intended to be a rager, as the kids would say, bands like Alkaline Trio and Motion City Soundtrack come to mind immediately when hearing this track.
The EP closes out with “Last of the Light,” a beautiful, almost somber song that shows Elijah’s vulnerability. With accents of piano and a full blown choir, this track alone shows his personal growth as a musician. his previous output is fantastic, and I don’t want to take away from his body of work, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you he’s ever personally released a better album. Where many artists put their focus on commercial viability and attempting to recreate the current “it” sound, Elijah Newman & The SideEffects are far more focused on making music that actually matters. It’s honest, it’s raw, and it’s even heartbreaking at parts, but it’s a full blown experience that I cannot recommend enough.
Elijah Newman & The SideEffects aren’t currently a household name, but I pray they become a big name in your household.0