On May 18, 2022

Eli Young Band debuts new title track of upcoming album during tour

Delighted crowds at Paramount Theatre, May 7

By Alan Sculley, Last Word Features

The Eli Young Band had big plans before the pandemic hit and rearranged everyone’s world.

“We had a busy year planned,” Mike Eli, the group’s singer/guitarist said in a recent phone interview. “We were doing our first European tour. We also had our first full Canadian tour where we were going to go all the way across Canada. We had played a lot of shows there and we had played a lot of shows in Europe, but we had never gone to either place and done a full-fledged tour, a shore to shore kind of thing. So we had both of things planned in 2020, and obviously, those did not work out.”

Courtesy Paramount Theatre
Eli Young Band

For Eli Young, however, the major disruption that was Covid-19 came with a significant silver lining: time with family and to write.

“I’ve written 70 songs since March [2020]. I’ve never really written that much music in such a short amount of time — ever,” Young said “So I think the creative side of me was really tapped during this time and that was kind of the blessing that came out of this thing for me personally, not only spending this much time [writing], I’ve got a young 3-year-old and a 9-year-old, and being able to spend this time non-stop with them has been priceless.”

Young also relished the freedom he felt with his songwriting during the pandemic.

“It was really nice to not be under the pressure of writing for an album or under the pressure of traveling while trying to find time to write,” he said. “Just being able to sit up in my studio office and be creative with none of those pressures has, I think, opened the doors up to the possibilities of writing so many things differently.

“I think I’ve written the best songs of my life in the last year,” Eli said. “Even though it’s 70 songs (and that’s a lot of songs) I do feel that it was still quality over quantity… there’s just so much I’m proud of when it comes to the songs that I’ve written.”

The first batch of Eli Young’s new songs figures to emerge in June on “Love Talking,” the next album from the Eli Young Band, which also includes guitarist James Young, drummer Chris Thompson and bassist Jon Jones. The group has released the title track, “Love Talking,” to coincide with a 51-date tour that began in March and extends into August, of which Rutland’s Paramount Theatre was part of May 7.

The band’s set list will feature the band’s hit singles and fan favorites, but there may be some surprises as well. “A lot of what we’ve come up with for the show has been, you know, you have your solid moments, the moments in the show that have always stayed the same, and then everything around the meat and potatoes you change up a little bit,” he said. “But it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The band hopes to tour without interruptions moving forward, building on a career that began in 2000. Touring has been a big factor in building a strong grass-roots following, but the Eli Young Band has also enjoyed some radio success.

The biggest hit was “Crazy Girl,” off of the group’s fourth album, 2011’s “Life at Best.” It ended 2011 as the No. 1 country song on “Billboard’s” year-end country singles chart. Three more chart-topping singles, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” “Drunk Last Night” and “Love Ain’t,” have since followed.

But the group’s most recent album, 2017’s “Fingerprints,” didn’t fare as well. “Saltwater Gospel,” the lone single from “Fingerprints,” peaked just outside of the top 40.

That former song, however, has since gotten a second life, as the Eli Young Band released a new version featuring Jimmy Buffett on guest vocals in spring 2020. Working with Buffett was a thrill, Young said. Unfortunately, the new version of “Saltwater Gospel” was another victim of sorts of the pandemic.

“We did that (song) right as Covid was happening and going down,” he explained. “So obviously, starting that in January or February [of 2020], it was really tough to get a song like that to do big things in such a rough go of a year, but we’re really proud of it. To be able to do that song with Buffett was a huge treat. We’re such huge fans of what he does and who he is and what he stands for. That song is a big part of us and who we are.”

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