Elliott Ok (Burning Pictures, Bobcat Rob and the Nightly Howl, Joe Kaplow) is a kid whose years on this planet belie his old soul vibe. Elliott is more than just a musician or music appreciator, he’s a devotee. He listens to his influences deeply – deeper than a lot of the people around him. You hear it when he talks about bands like The Grateful Dead or The Band or musicians like Dylan. He doesn’t just listen to these players, he studies them. He digs into the songs and mines the gems that make them special and then he shares them. And, though he’d never throw it out there bragging, he possesses an enviable pedigree. He’s Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s Godson and, like Ramblin’ Jack, truly crafts his songs – he makes art that, at least in his debut single, Snap! (The End) leaves little to the imagination. His writing is less metaphoric and far more truthful. The third verse and chorus are a case in point:
“Old friends walk by, I turn away and hide
‘Cuz I can’t explain why I came
To where I am right now
Some beachfront dive,
The edge of a dull life
Chippin away at what I say when you ask ‘
How are things?’
There’s apple trees and sugar snap peas and lazy afternoons
And bittersweet hope that they won’t end too soon.”
So what is that bittersweetness? It is being born and raised in a beach town, loving that place and being passionate about a geographically desirable spot in which everyone else wants to live. It’s the increasing reality that as an artist, he won’t be able to live in the town that makes up a huge part of not only his warp and weave but has also had a massive impact on his musical stylings. Elliott explained, “This song is about being somewhere really comfortable but wondering whether it’s time to try and move on or seek out different things. I grew up in Santa Cruz and have always been kind of like addicted to being in this beautiful place on the California coast, but it’s getting less and less possible for artists to afford a living here and so many of them are leaving which ruins a lot of what was cool about our home in the first place. I have this sense of feeling like a stunted young adult for not being able to afford a place to live in the place I grew up, especially if I want to keep pursuing what I love . . . and I’m one of the lucky ones!” For a lot of us, it is a similar sounding story – these frontlines of gentrification.
Elliott is joined on this one by Joe Kaplow on bass and Andrew Hawes on drums. The sound of the song hints at ethereal hope. It’s slow but shiny – like a warm day at the beach in which you can just let your mind wander. Viscous slide guitar lines, while they twist and turn, also root the sound in the traditional weirdness of Santa Cruz that is rapidly fading to the fog bank of history as housing is snapped up by wealthy Silicon Valley types possessing the personality depths of the kiddie pool. Those twisting guitar lines are contrasted by the anxiety of what is next? Where to from here? These are the questions to which we wish we had answers! There is, however, one thing of which we can all be sure. Elliott’s career in music, while just beginning, is destined for great things. The creativity, genuinely inquisitive – ready for anything attitude, and multi-instrumental abilities that this kid has is going to take him down a fascinating and fruitful road. Listen to Snap! (The End) here right now (above) or on all music platforms today.