As we approach another election that is continuously fed to us through television, mail, and social media, many of us are still left wondering how the “other side” can still hold their views. Divided, tattered, and torn, America is hurting. In this pivotal moment Eli Gardiner released The Fire and the Medicine, with many of today’s themes baked into it. The album is an honest look into the world we’re navigating, where everything can appear so clear, but things aren’t what they seem.
The album ignites on the first track. You hear heartland, country, and the ensemble of Eli’s talented band. The opening line hints at global warming and all the fires in California.
“There’s a coastal town and the sky is black. There’s a little boat, it’s never coming back.”
“Boat at Sea” sounds like a reminder of to pay attention to the world around us. We may not be able to come back from the places we’re going now. The song swells like a fire, building into an extended ending that consumes your attention.
The next two songs, “Bought and Sold” and “Before the War,” simmer down and focus on identity and finding your way. Themes of America’s ugly past rings through as well. Eli’s single “Tattered and Torn” comes next. This direct response to the 2016 election speaks of uniting during division, especially by marching together. Eli’s stance on how protesting is patriotic resonates in a year filled with unrest. The video shows that history of standing up and what it means as an American.
The Fire and the Medicine is an album that plays both sides. The first six songs are a sweltering blaze of political issues, confusion, and pain. “Eaten Alive” begins to deal with the medicine. The optimistic mood of this song softens the difficult lyrics of being stuck in a place that continues to eat you alive. The breakdown turns a corner and provides immediate hope.
“It’s been four years since you’ve been clean
Seems these days you either fight it or die
So find those people that can help you try.”
Playful ditty “Fictional Women,” which is perfectly executed by Eli’s circle of musicians, continues the medicine. Dan Schwartz surrounds the song with mandolin and banjo, Greg Schutte’s drums giddy up and down to provide a tap-along beat. It’s the right song to build on optimism, as it encourages you to feel confident in where you’re at.
“Villain” captures Gardiner stripped down with a lone guitar. It weaves around a villain and the confidence that person can have in their actions. Much like today’s political environment, the radio (social media) play a huge part in storytelling perceptions. Who’s the villain and who’s the hero when we’re surrounded by deep-seated blues?
Eli Gardiner has a voice that conveys the pieces inside of us that can’t always speak. Relatable, soulful, and honest, his songwriting is structured in observations. He’s a modern voice to old problems that continue to haunt our society.
You can purchase The Fire and the Medicine through Eli’s website on September 25th. He’s also doing a live lawn show at 3pm at 4019 Blaisdell Ave South on the 27th. His Facebook live release show on September 29th.