A powerful country music record will balance a sense of the hardened and the tender experiences, addressing matters of the heart. Elliot C. Way’s All I Know is a ride through recollections of sorrow, sojourning along plains and deep emotional valleys of his lived west coast experience.
Album opener “Bleed” sets the emotional benchmark: “Well my heart is heavy, my soul’s been carrying the load, I don’t want to bleed anymore.” With a storytelling integrity reminiscent of raconteur bleeding hearts like Springsteen, Way leans into the strength of self awareness as opposed to feigning might, inviting listeners into the crevices of vulnerability.
Conceived at Old Mountain, Way’s once old small farmhouse turned recording studio, his songs project the lonesome feel of being in a room only big enough to stare at your own demons. However, many corners of this album highlight musical collaborations he’s been fostering for years. It’s a reprisal of some talented players from Way’s country rock project The Wild North (John Sponarski, Erik Neilsen, Matt Kelly and Leon Power, with the addition of Kendel Carson on fiddle. Blending around his songwriting are warmly resonating lead guitar hooks and bass grooves which serve each track and lock into steady drum lines. Hypnotic whines of lap steel on songs like “All I Know” and emotive fiddling surface deeply buried feelings, and braids throughout the album.
With the insight of an old soul who has lived through the storm, but also a young heart that dares to hope, Way sings on River Road, “All these roads lead back here to this place beyond the pain and the fear.” All I Know is an emotional journey that finds Way working through the pleasures and pains, learning what it means to be a solo artist while traversing the great wide open plains of life.