Arts Performing Arts

Music Feature: Eleanor Underhill & Friends

Land of the Living

By Gina Malone

Releasing an album during a pandemic has its good points, believe it or not. Eleanor Underhill & Friends release their latest, Land of the Living, this month, and, while not being able to perform live onstage has certainly been difficult, time at home has been needed and fruitful, Underhill says. “Given the added time on my hands, I created a video component for the whole album, start to finish: a video for every single song. That is something I probably wouldn’t have had time for if I were playing my usual amount of gigs.” And, too, she adds, the videos have a wide reach and invite close connections. “Live streaming and live-premiered videos allow us to share a moment together even though we are far apart.”

The new album “speaks to female empowerment and representation,” Underhill says, with something for all kinds of musical tastes. She describes her music as Americana soul that just keeps evolving. “I will always have my instincts that root back to jazz, folk, blues and pop, but how I arrange those elements varies,” she says, adding that while there can be some darkness in her songs, she layers it with humor and fun. “At the end of the day, it’s about good storytelling, interesting rhythms and beautiful sounds. That’s what I’m chasing.”

She learned claw-hammer banjo in Asheville and played at old-time jam sessions at Warren Wilson College while a student there. “Being steeped in mountain music for many years has no doubt infiltrated my bones,” she says. “I’ve also met so many great musicians in this town that have pushed my writing and instrumental proficiency to new heights.”

Of the songs on the new album, she is partial to “Beautiful Colors,” which exemplifies songwriting out-of-the-box. “It’s a bit of an abstract work with stream-of-consciousness lyrics and musical nods to New Age/World music and EDM [electronic dance music],” Underhill says. “It’s a wild ride and it makes me laugh whenever I hear it.”

Land of the Living is available on iTunes or, for a signed copy visit EleanorUnderhillMusic.com. Music and videos are also available on Spotify and Eleanor Underhill’s YouTube channel. The Eleanor Underhill & Friends Album Release Show is planned for Thursday, August 6, at 8 p.m. at The Grey Eagle, and a Full Album Video Premiere will be presented Friday, August 7, at 8 p.m. on Facebook @ Eleanor Underhill & Friends and on YouTube.

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