Ordinary Elephant “Ordinary Elephant”

Independent, 2024

Beautifully woven midlife consolations.

Ordinary Elephant, 2024Folk duo and married couple Crystal and Pete Damore unveil their third album, marked by a stripped-down sound that consolidates their musical talents. This self-titled release serves as an exposition of the duo’s core principle that ‘no elephant is ordinary,’ a koan that encourages us to view the world afresh with appreciation for its inherent perfection.

The album explores the pains and pleasures of midlife reflection, with mindful appreciation of the everyday, and pastoral portraits painted with an economy that matches the bare-bones simplicity of the music. The opener, ‘Once Upon A Time,’ belies its scenes of domestic bliss with a nagging uncertainty: “Tell me that story again, darling, the one where we all end up alright.” Reflecting the duo’s recent change in circumstances following COVID, which saw them end a decade-long nomadic lifestyle of touring to make a home in Louisiana near where this album was recorded. The pandemic and the time since has resulted in a period of reflection that germinated these songs.

Midlife‘ flickers with the late summer hues. The shadows of remembrances like 8mm on a wall, or as Crystal sings, “all that we have let ourselves dream is still flickering in the dark/ somewhere like a worn-out film on a dollar theater movie screen.” The past is another country, but we carry it with us. As Carl Jung considered, midlife offers a time to reconcile the whole self—the conscious and unconscious. In doing so, new energies are unlocked. Such gradients propel ‘Joy Has Not Forgotten Me,’ which beats back against time’s tide with defiance. It’s a sweet, fleet-footed ramble that sees, feels, and holds onto all the small moments.

Similarly, ‘Walk With You’ is a straightforward love song, but such moments are countered with a greater mix of sorrow, made desolate by the vocal and minimal acoustic instrumentation. ‘Relic of the Rain’ has a quiet meditative beauty, while ‘Here It Is,’ reflects on the civil unrest and the daily trauma of the news feeds, “A system built up broken and a game that’s fixed.” There are no easy answers given. At times a recognition of the circumstances is as much as can be offered.

Say It Loud,’ and particularly ‘Maybe It’s The Holidays‘ exude raw sorrow that recalls Iris Dement. On the latter we hear, “Been having some hard days inside my head. / Maybe it’s the time change, or the holidays. / But most of the time these days, been feeling mostly dead.

It brings to mind confessional poetry such as Anne Sexton. Indeed, many of the songs have the poise of poetry, ornately crafted. Dealing in dualities, certainty/uncertainty, reflection and dejection. The torrents of the unquiet mind. The album ends on the lines “Good intentions only go so far. Can you tell me where to start?

Comparisons to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are clear but also well-earned. They match not just in the music and tone but equally in the earthy economy of the songwriting, where songs are plucked and crafted with care. It results in something ornate, carefully curated, a neatly woven tapestry, time and experience in every stitch.


About Tom Harding 14 Articles
A writer with a love of all things country, folk, jazz and blues. By night I'm a poet with two published poetry books from Palewell Press, latest available now, "Afternoon Music." www.tomharding.net
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