A sweetly stirring record of intimate and inclusive self-expression, singer/songwriter Elisa Nicolas’ wondrous and warm ‘Year of the Locust’ comes to life with radiant color and infectious energy.
Stream: “No Answers” – Elisa Nicolas
A sweetly stirring record of intimate and inclusive self-expression, singer/songwriter Elisa Nicolas’ new album comes to life with radiant color and infectious energy. Wondrous and warm, emotive and impassioned, Year of the Locust blends rock, pop, jazz, RnB, and more elements into a charming, churning introduction straight from the heart.
I can see you’re somewhere else
And I’ll go it alone tonight
Burning out but not burning up
I’ll be gone before you take flight
There’s no answer
To my questions
There’s no answer
To my questions
Devil’s knocking at the door
Take my hands, take my clothes
I can’t go it alone tonight
Stop whispering, go higher
Then your gone before I take flight
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Year of the Locust, independently out November 5, 2021. Billed as the “re-debut” album of alternative singer/songwriter Elisa Nicolas, this new eight-track offering represents Nicolas’ formal re-entry into music after a 12 year hiatus: The Canadian-born, Ohio-based artist released her first record, Compass and a Pen, back in 2007, and has since remained active behind the scenes within the greater Columbus music community, writing and producing with a slew of different artists and working on projects for Broadway’s Actor Fund and more.
Still, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of recording and releasing your own original music. As Nicolas explains, her new album is many years in the making: The end result of patience, dedication, hard work, and considerable whittling.
“I’m not a prolific songwriter,” she admits in conversation with Atwood Magazine. “I create and scratch out ideas and then marinate on them until I think they’re worth pursuing and refining. Truthfully, most of those ideas end up never seeing the light of day again, so it is no small miracle that I wrote all of the album songs over the course of a few years. After getting “the bones” of most of the songs recorded, and stress-testing them at solo and band gigs, I started to flesh out more details in my studio.”
“Sometime in 2019, I ran into my friend, producer and engineer, Jeffrey Ciampa. I knew I wanted to work with Jeff and he wanted to work with me. He is one of the most brilliant musicians I’ve ever had the privilege to know. We have similar taste in music as well as similar production values. We just get each other. Not to mention, Jeff has worked on a couple of Grammy winning records. It was just a matter of getting our schedules working.”
“We started recording in late 2019, but then the pandemic hit and the project was put on hold. In early 2020, there were so many unknowns, and I didn’t feel like we could work in the same studio safely. In the summer of 2020, COVID infections seemed to be on a downward trend and I finally got some large projects off my plate and started tracking again in my studio and at Jeff’s amazing room, Studio Orange. I called friends in Nashville who I knew had good gear at their disposal and they recorded and sent me files. Thank goodness for technology. By early 2021, the album was mixed and mastered.”
The album’s title Year of the Locust can be interpreted as a reference to 2021’s buzzy cicada season, but make no mistake: There’s no excess noise on this album. Thematically, Nicolas’ songs tell stories of lives lived and lessons learned – not all of which are necessarily hers. Her jazzy, rock-influenced singer/songwriter sound centers largely around her melodic, gorgeous gilded vocals, with driving drums and crafty guitars, assorted strings and more providing additional warmth, character, and harmony to every moment.
Special moments abound throughout the album, with notable highlights including the charged lead single “No Answers,” the lively, spirited song “Go On,” the heartfelt, aching “Stars Fell from Your Eyes” – but in truth, Year of the Locust‘s overall start-to-finish journey is one worth embarking on. Nicolas creates in her music a safe space for all to lay their feelings bare; to feel seen and heard, recognized and valued. Her music is rich and enriching, and sure to stick with listeners throughout the upcoming winter season.
Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Elisa Nicolas’ Year of the Locust with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her re-debut album!
Stream: ‘Year of the Locust’ – Elisa Nicolas
:: Inside Year of the Locust ::
Back In Town
I find it far more interesting to write about people with a complicated backstory. The song is an amalgam of people who were probably missing a frontal lobe, or had too many drugs in their system or who just lacked a clearly defined moral compass. Whatever they were, they were often hard to resist.
Thomas Bryan Eaton plays the hell out of the guitar on this song. He plays this uniquely chaotic and belligerent guitar solo. And I always think my bass playing is pretty decent on my demos, and then Jeff lays down something like this and blows me away.
I love trains. There’s a meditative quality riding on a train, especially when it slows and pulls into a station. The Cardinal is a train line that goes from New York City to Chicago with a stop in Cincinnati. I imagined someone making that long train ride home trying to outrun everything that’s wrong in their life.
The line “pulled down the almanac, to find the year the locust comes back” informs the title of the album, Year of the Locust. The idea that sometimes you have to destroy everything, reach the lowest point and start over in order to find redemption. This song started as a simple pretty jangly acoustic guitar song, but when it came time to record for the album, I decided to slow down the song and leave a lot of space by just playing long half note chords. That gave the drummer, Tony McClung, Jeff and guitarist Josh Hill (Huntertones) a lot of space to do their thing. Josh’s solo in particular is achingly beautiful.
You Shouldn’t Matter To Me
I have a good friend who was getting physically abused by her husband. We ran in the same circle of friends so I’d have to see this asshole all the time, and I felt I couldn’t say anything. So I wrote a song about it. At one point I found myself in the same room as this guy and he asked me if I’d written any new music. I remember looking at him and thinking “Yeah, motherfucker, I have new music.” So, I played him this song.
This is about two people who are no longer communicating but who stay together. There was a point in the pandemic where I couldn’t make it to the studio to oversee the drum recording so I called Jeff and Tony and said “I trust you. Do your thing.” The result is just so unexpectedly gorgeous. I would’ve screwed it up if I’d been there.
Bombed Out Town
One day my sister was travelling in the Middle East. She was speeding through a town that had been bombed to hell. I thought that was an interesting title for a song. The song is really a metaphor for complicated relationships. When I initially approached Jeff about producing my record, this was the first song I sent him. It’s probably the most Beatlesque song I’ve ever written and I know he loves the Beatles. Needless to say, he took the gig.
Stars Fell From Your Eyes
Sometimes it might seem a person doesn’t deserve our love. They might be the worst sort of human, in this case, an adulterer and a murderer. This is about trying to reconcile your love for someone knowing who they are and what they’ve done. In the end, we may try to legislate who we love, but in my experience, I don’t think that’s really possible.
This is about the mental anguish of not being on the same page with someone sexually. I had been playing the beginning of this particular chord progression for weeks on my acoustic guitar. For some reason, I couldn’t seem to land it. It was literally like not being able to hit the payoff during sex. So I wrote the lyrics about that. I finally put down what I thought was a working form, but it still didn’t sound quite right. I love orchestral strings so I wrote some counterpoint to the guitar. And then the song started to build into the epic form it has now. Thomas Bryan Eaton’s beautiful pedal steel playing, the strings and gang vocals, Megan Palmer, Nikki Wonder, and Catwix, make the song.
I Wanna Believe In You
It’s hard to be gracious to a narcissist, especially when you’re their victim. This is as close to a pop rock song as I’m probably ever going to get. I’m a huge fan of Jeff Ciampa’s bass playing on this song. It’s just so rhythmically imaginative and melodic. This song features Josh Hill again on guitar.
Stream: ‘Year of the Locust’ – Elisa Nicolas
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