` Jesusfreakhideout.com: Trailand Eltzroth, "For My Friends and Family" Review
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JFH Indie Music Spotlight Review

Trailand Eltzroth, 'For My Friends and Family'

Trailand Eltzroth
For My Friends and Family

Street Date: February 2, 2024
Style: Folk / Singer-Songwriter
Official Site: TrailandEltzroth.com
Buy It: Bandcamp

Trailand Eltzroth is an up and coming singer/songwriter from Jackson, Mississippi. Prior to this year, Eltzroth had only two EPs to his name. However, with the release of his first full-length album, For My Friends and Family, he's proving that his songwriting skills are already well above average.

With For My Friends and Family, Eltzroth seems to have taken stylistic cues from artists like Andrew Peterson, Jon Foreman, and even Sufjan Stevens (but the less experimental, off-the-wall Sufjan material). It's largely acoustic and even folksy, both in sound and in Eltzroth's tendency to write songs that are more story-driven. He has a great sense of melody (the chorus of "Sophia" is addicting); in fact, the vocal and musical melodies complement each other quite nicely, creating really engaging moments, such as in "I've Found Love In Mississippi" and the Arcadian Wild-esque "New Life." I'm also a sucker for a strong, prominent bass guitar, which the album has in spades. It isn't overpowering by any means; it just sounds great and adds depth to each song.

While the album's title suggests that the songs may be about and for specific people, the lyrics and themes are actually a bit more varied. Songs like "Love Like We Do," and the aforementioned "Sophia," certainly fit the bill. But right out of the gate, "You Can Hear Me" opens with an all-too-familiar-sounding existential crisis, as Eltzroth contends with the pressures of life, feeling insufficient, and wondering if God is still around (what seasoned Christian hasn't at one time prayed "Oh my Lord, can You hear me? / I long for rest in Your promise / Oh my Lord, I hear silence?").

This isn't an album of doubt, though. While Eltzroth acknowledges that those times are real, there's a lot of joy and trust in the Lord displayed throughout the remaining songs. "National Geographic" sings of God's promises in the Bible in the face of the world's boasting, "Out of Time" is a reminder that life on earth is short and we have work to do as believers, and, going back to the friends and family theme, "The Wind In Our Sails" recounts a couple's life story and God's faithfulness through it all ("Now it wasn't all easy, but you both have stayed true / the seasons have passed you by, the kids came and grew / you've told them your story, shared all that you know / you cling to each other, and both watch them go / it reminds you of something, of a time that's long past / of a young man now old, who's found home at last / with the strings at our fingers, we've picked up your pen / kept on your writing, and learned from your sin").

As I said above, this may only be the first full album from Trailand Eltzroth, but it almost sounds like something from a seasoned artist. It's melodically pleasing and lyrically interesting and mature, with solid production quality to boot. For My Friends and Family is out now, but don't let the title throw you off - it's for you, too.

- Review date: 2/14/24, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com

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JFH Indie Spotlight Review . Record Label: None
. Album length: 12 tracks: 49 minutes, 34 seconds
. Street Date: February 2, 2024
. Buy It: Bandcamp

  1. You Can Hear Me (4:05)
  2. Silver Lining (3:53)
  3. Sophia (3:48)
  4. New Life (3:37)
  5. With You My Friend (3:29)
  6. National Geographic (3:40)
  7. Love Like We Do (4:54)
  8. I've Found Love in Mississippi (4:03)
  9. Out of Time (4:16)
  10. Meadowlark (3:59)
  11. Home (3:30)
  12. The Wind in Our Sails (6:17)
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  • Jesus Freak Hideout (Scott Fryberger): For My Friends and Family is a pretty succinct album title. What's the story behind wanting to dedicate an album to your loved ones?

    Trailand Eltzroth: Over the last few years I realized that I had been writing songs that were either written for or about my friends and family. I would put the songs together on a setlist before a show to think about the stories I was going to tell and specific peoples faces would come into my mind. It might sound obvious but in a way all of the songs I write are for other people. I want to create contemplative music and use it as a vehicle to share my passions with a receptive audience and then shepherd them towards the fullness of beauty and truth. The most intentional way that I know how to do that is through the art form of story and the stories of my friends and family have always been the most influential in my life.

  • JFH (Scott): I certainly hear traces of folks like Andrew Peterson and Levi Sikes (of Former Ruins) in your music. Who would you say influences your sound and style?

    Trailand: Andrew has definitely had an influence on my music and equally the way I perform in concert. I'm a big fan of Henry Jamison and Sufjan Stevens. I think David Wilcox has probably influenced my guitar playing style the most of anybody. I'm not familiar with Former Ruins, but now I know what I'll be listening to this weekend!

  • JFH (Scott): How long have you been playing music and writing songs? And what led you to take the leap into releasing music to the world?

    Trailand: My dad is a songwriter and when he would play shows he would have me perform songs I had written starting at age four. After years on the road I took a writing hiatus… And didn't start writing again until I learned how to play the guitar at thirteen years old (only because my best friend bragged about how good he was at guitar). I studied traditional composition in school and after graduating I had learned a bit about recording. Recording became very important to me because I remember writing music in school and I would put so much work into writing manuscripts, only to have them performed once live and never heard again. I felt this deep need to create something that lived a little longer and had the chance to become eternal. That is what got me into recording. I released an EP in 2021, another EP in 2022 and this year I released this first full-length album.

  • JFH (Scott): "I've Found Love In Mississippi" is a standout track for me. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this song?

    Trailand: I was born in California and then was moved to Mississippi the same month that I turned eight. I intentionally tried to avoid getting a southern accent and I've mostly succeeded. I married a girl from Virginia and we moved away to the U.K. for a couple of years for me to study and I thought I had finally seen the last of Mississippi. But then we moved back, we bought a house, we have a child with a Mississippi birth certificate and somehow convinced my in-laws to also move down from Virginia. Now my daughter plays with her cousins that live just the right amount of distance away and I've gotten to know our neighbors like family. I've fallen in love with the state that I tried to pretend I didn't live in but I now call home. This track highlights some of those relationships and their individual stories about sharing love in Mississippi.

  • JFH (Scott): "Meadowlark" is a potentially controversial song, but in a good way, if you ask me. What message were you hoping to convey with this one?

    Trailand: This past summer I drove from Mississippi to Maine on my first tour titled, unsurprisingly, "For My Friends and Family." I went places I've never been before and met lots of lovely people that I'll never forget. I saw my country of origin from a different perspective. I saw how the people change but the places stay the same. I saw a meadowlark perched on a fence post in the farmland outside of my Nana's country home singing as the trucks drove past bringing supplies to the new developments being built. I saw American flags flying outside of the homes of people who wouldn't share a table together but would die together in a different land. I saw a church in Philadelphia that chose to fly a rainbow flag during pride month this past year so they weren't vandalized like the year before. I saw dead trees in the roadside marshes in Maine where the salt water level has risen, in part, because of a changing climate.

    That tour was life changing and I felt entitled to put some element of it on this album. I started writing "Meadowlark" while I was on a front porch in Ocean Park, Maine and I finished it in my back garden in Jackson, MS. It's a song about my travels and what I saw. My hope is that all of my songs are able to make you pause and think about what's around you. I've started a tradition in January where I take the month off from creating and sharing and instead focus on creating goals for myself that could help me to grow as a person over the following eleven months. I love to prioritize the time it takes to sit in my garden and open my ears and listen to the world around me. More importantly, when I find silence, I can start to listen to what needs to be heard inside of me and then try to contemplate what comes up to the surface. It's one of my favorite things to do. I hope this song encourages others to pause on their way to conclusions and really take time to listen and contemplate.

  • JFH (Scott): In general, what do you hope to accomplish with your music?

    Trailand: Music has been the friend I needed in different seasons. It has brought me joy to share it with others and equally helped me in my solitude. I hope to allow others the chance to find that in my music. I want to give others the gift of music just as I have received it.

    I also hope listeners can hear parts of their own stories and thoughts reflected in my songs and be encouraged to dig deeper into their own worlds and relationships. There is beauty and meaning in their experience and I hope my music can be an inspiration or tool for them to dig deeper.

  • JFH (Scott): The album has been out for a few weeks as of writing this question. How has the early response been so far?

    Trailand: Really positive. For my previous two EPs I released the songs and wanted to get away from them as fast as possible. I don't feel that way with these tracks. I am enjoying hearing how others are responding and sharing them. I hope they continue to live for a while.

  • JFH (Scott): Do you have any plans for 2024 surrounding your music?

    Trailand: I have two tours that are lining up, one on the West Coast in April and another in July back along the East Coast. I need a little break from recording but I have a few ideas kicking around with friends for remixing some of these tracks.



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