The Dublin duo Elgin came together having travelled the breadth of the globe as the acclaimed collective The Young Folk and now with new album ‘Weightless / Still’, out 28th May, they continue their musical journey under the name Elgin.
Elgin is a natural progression and represents a new direction for the band. Whilst still centred around the key contributing members of The Young Folk, Elgin gives them the freedom to play different instruments, to untangle themselves from the steady rotation of band members and get back to the simplicity of a duo, just like it was in the beginning.
Anthony Furey and Paul Butler wrote almost all the songs for The Young Folk, Anthony often drawing inspiration from writers and poets – George Orwell, Seamus Heaney, Charles Bukowski and Colum McCann. Especially Colum McCann. But it just so happens that most of the material on ‘Weightless / Still’ is Paul’s.
“I was in the right frame of mind,” Paul says. “Well… actually in the wrong frame of mind, but the right one to come up with all these ideas.” New ways, born of sleep deprivation, to express self-doubt, anxiety, loss and letting go of the past. “Things that I feel uncomfortable talking about,” he admits.
When Paul’s uncle, the filmmaker Brendan Bourke, died suddenly a few years ago, it hit hard. Paul found himself deprived of the comfort that religion afforded other members of the family. “I was quite envious that they could say ‘he’s in a better place, he’s not in pain’. It’s a great concept, but I don’t believe in it at all. And I was angry at this. Like, what am I supposed to do?” Those feelings form the lyrical backbone of ‘Oh Love’.
The album also looks at reaching a low point and remembering the low point before that one, and the low point before that in the song ‘Stone’s Throw’, which Paul says was, “A bit of a eureka moment for me.” Or the feeling of not being able to help somebody anymore (‘Bulletproof’), or sitting in the garden and letting the mind wander (‘Apple Tree’), or broken love (‘Fault Lines’), or feeling lost and clueless at the end of a relationship (‘Hopeless Swimmer’, written by Anthony).
Then there’s ‘Sloe’, a song inspired by Colum McCann’s short story Fishing the Sloe Black River, which was turned into a film by Paul’s uncle, Brendan. “Everything in that song is about something completely different – trips, love, life, holidays, friends,” he says.
The album captures so many feelings and states of mind, all aspiring ultimately perhaps to a feeling we often dream about, the feeling of being weightless and still. “As in out-of-body,” says Paul. “The feeling that we never have.”