David R. Elliott Releases New Album “Sam Hill”

By: Ben Burnett

At 23 years-old, David R. Elliott has written hundreds of songs, self-produced over ten albums, and filled countless notebooks with lyrics. Elliott is the incarnate of Charles Bukowski’s credo, “if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.”
“I started writing poems when I was young,” Elliott says, between deep breaths ofcigarettes over Skype. “And I always thought being a musician looked cool. So I started trying to
be one right away.” Later this month, Elliott’s years of work will be rewarded with his first fully packaged and released record: Sam Hill.
“I’ve been making little CD cases with my name on them since I was like 8 years old,” he admits. “So to finally have the official looking, shrink-wrapped classic jewel case… It’s going to have that new CD smell… and it’s going to be my CD!”
But Sam Hill is more than just the culmination of his artistic goals. It is also the result of
several tumultuous months that have left Elliott’s personal life in flux.
In January, he and his girlfriend left Halifax to move to Saint John for the summer. Elliott
grew up in the Port City, and was looking for a change of scenery. He began work on the album
with one microphone set-up in his bedroom. After February, his girlfriend travelled to Europe, and he found himself alone in their Saint John apartment. The rest of the record was written in the two months following her departure. And so, the lyrics take on a thematic twist.
“Whittles, is a song about a relationship that isn’t new, that you want to stay in, but
because you have been with this person so long, there are all these circumstances and attitudes
you’ve developed for each other. And losing your patience too quickly because you’re used to
them, so you give yourself extra rope with that person cause you know them better than anyone
else,” he explained.
Conversely, there are very literal depictions of his post-relationship torch-bearing.
“The Pull, is just a romantic song. I’m no longer brooding because you ignore the shitty
things in that moment after they leave, you become blinded by regret.”
Relationship themes are ever-present in Elliott’s work, but this is the first time he has
presented such a nuanced appreciation for both sides’ feelings and failings. This could be a
product of maturity, or simply the spoils for dedicating himself to his craft for so long.
“Some people are paranoid about their songs not being good, and they let it stop them
from trying to do things they admire,” he says. “But if you just write all the time you start to
figure out where you fit, and what things work for you. And how to translate what other people
do in to your own expression.”
Elliott has a strong work ethic, but he speaks about it with levity. His music is self-
serious but he is casual in conversation. He has a self-deprecating sense of humor: referencing
his sound as “sad bastard music” multiple times through our conversation.
But he says the deeply personal songs are the most cathartic. His writing style is more
effective at evoking the feelings of love and longing, happiness upset by unspecified
circumstance.
“It’s my way of working through [my feelings] and it isn’t necessarily the healthiest or
most effective way,” he muses. “Being brutally honest, it’s unfair sometimes to the other people
in my life, but I’m at a point now where I think it’s a necessary part of my personality and my
craft.”
Sam Hill is Elliott’s first record that begins to unpack some of the severe baggage left by broken relationships. And its honesty makes it distinctly personal, but highly recognizable.
Elliott has developed his lane, and is prepared to share it- with anyone.
“The last time [he and his girlfriend split] she definitely wasn’t thrilled to hear some of
the material I was writing about,” Elliott remembers. “Time will tell what she thinks of this, but I don’t think she’ll be angry. I think she whole-heartedly expects it.”

Check out Elliott’s album here:



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