Sleeping Bag Studios

 Love + Death Review

I’ll always admire artists with the significant amount of heart, passion, and creativity that someone like Elkins possesses…she’s in this for the pure love of the game…at the end of the day, that’s always what the core of music should be about. She sings & sways through the edgy & empowered melody & words of “Only Your Love Will Do.” I dig the throwback vibes on “I Don’t Understand” and the sixties-influenced sound it’s got. Dig the tone of the guitars, love the backing vocals when they show up…I also dig that extra bit of rock’n’roll attitude & sneer in her voice as she sings this tune, there’s great attitude in the way she chooses to approach this tune, and the music surrounding her definitely calls for it. Definitely an old-school & throwback vibe at work here on “I Don’t Understand,” but an effective one that seems to authentically suit the wild & free spirit that Tabitha Elkins most assuredly is in her music.

While it might ultimately be a tale of unrequited love, it’s also a noteworthy amount of fun – Tabitha puts in a really inspired performance throughout this whole song. She might be wild’n’out in the final third of “I Wish You Were Mine” a little bit, but for the most part, there’s a beautiful passion on display in this song that would soften the hardest of hearts. “Chessmen”...(is) definitely one of my favorites from Love + Death with its College-Rock/Indie sound & style. Good combination of piano & guitar as Tabitha dips into another Blues-inspired tune with “Over You”: a song that manages to display a range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings as Elkins seems to live this one out in real-time. “Only For A Day” – I think she nails this one really well. Somewhere in between an R.E.M. like quaintness to the melody and the distance you’d find in something like Mazzy Star, you’ll find Tabitha delivering on the best of what you’d imagine fits in between those comparisons. “Walls In Our Hearts” has hooks that will stick with you, one way or the other…

Love + Death continues to spread awareness and a message through the lullaby-esque sway & sound of “Prayer For Our Planet.”

I love the realistic, grounded, and down to earth point of view that comes along with such a floaty/dreamy vibe…very clever contrast in the beginning of “Prayer For Our Planet”.

By the time you get to “Bring On The Night” and the dark & deadly vibes that haunt the guitars, vocals, and atmosphere of this track on Love + Death, we have certainly experienced quite a range of styles & sounds from Elkins once again, haven’t we? Expression reigns supreme on “Bring On The Night” – she puts in a fully dramatic, emotionally powerful, and unique melody into the microphone & music on this song…

I always admire when an artist will raise their voice at the right time and use their platform for the greater good – and you get a lot of that through Tabitha’s music, especially on tracks like “Walls In Our Hearts,” “Prayer For Our Planet,” and later on with “Final War” as well. Listen to what she’s wishing for this Christmas in the worlds of “Final War” – and recognize, that’s probably the exact same thing on your wish list, mine, and everyone else out there as well…it’s essentially a request for the peace we all deserve. An end to wars…an end to killing ourselves and the planet we live on…the end of international and internal conflicts…and end to the BS that prevents all of us from fully enjoying our daily lives on this planet – these are all kinds of things pondered over throughout “Final War” as Tabitha sings it. I felt like she gives a great performance on “Where The Cold Winds Blow” and gets a haunting vibe flowing throughout the Blues/Soul/Gospel-tinged sound of this second-to-last cut on Love + Death.“Blow, North Wind, Blow” finishes the sixteen-song experience on vibrant sound and melody that contains great rhythm & groove, with another solid performance from Tabitha to end Love + Death on a confident & cool final tune. She really does end this on a series of strong tones and spectacularly soulful notes, so give her the credit she deserves for bringing this one home good’n’proper!

Sleeping Bag Studios

Upside Down World Review

Interesting stuff from Tabitha here…she’s got an album that kind of plays like an open-book journal.

Upside Down World is a great title for a record like this that shifts all over the place and distorts the reality you know.

The recording itself is a complete trip…I’ll fully admit those guitars sound like they were recorded onto a tape, left out in the sun to cook, stretch and bend and then re-inserted into the groove…the result is a purely psychedelic-slice of the blues.

The production plays a large part in making this entire album a sonic-trip to listen to and “Bitter Blues” comes out as clear as evidence gets.

“Candyland” has a bit of that same filter or bizarre production to it – but the ideas come through even stronger and Tabitha really goes for some big notes on this tune. Good guitars, great bass, solid elements that fill in the music with effects & what-not…

“Daisy Chain” was kind of like a super-rad interlude…with its guitar-riffs coming out in stuttered-shots…reminded me of The Breeders “R.O.I.” in a way, even though the overall sound is entirely different. “Daisy Chain” is about as much of a trip as you can pack into a less-than two-minute song…it might just be me on this one, but I really liked this track!

I think she’s written a seriously powerful folk-tune with “Upside Down World” with bold words, great imagery, sentiment – and I really think this song explains the thoughts & feelings that Tabitha wants to express sincerely – and she does.

“Edge Of Nowhere” bends and slides around its rhythm and groove through the music and Elkins slips and slides right into this one hitting her part with confidence. Super-catchy and truly charismatic – “Edge Of Nowhere” was definitely a cut that worked for me…you can hear Tabitha control the madness around her like she’s conducting an orchestra. The electro atmosphere and the ending of “Captain Kirk” really worked well…solid writing of the last thirty-seconds or so to really take this track home. “Captain Kirk” is a pretty damn entertaining tune.

The real gem and jewel of this record though…is one of the most innocent, sweet and unsuspecting songs I’ve heard this year from the independent scene – “I’ve Got Your Name” is about as gorgeous as a melody and performance can get.

The music on this song is absolutely stunning…it’s like you can reach right back into the ballrooms of music’s past and catch a glimpse of the essence that began to create the sweetness and foundations of indie-pop. Innovative, sparkling and a truly beautiful moment in time – Tabitha stopped the entire world around me for three & a half-minutes with “I’ve Got Your Name,” I couldn’t get enough of it.

She’s referenced faith in many different songs throughout this record and ends on that note with “Blues For Jesus” – another highlight performance for her vocals, I think she finished this strongly. The melody is comforting and inviting…Tabitha’s got a great swaying-blues style on this last track and you can always hear the connection from her voice to the music, which I truly respect in songwriting.

Edge of Nowhere: "I'm gonna start walking and I'm never turning back..."

Wer Tabitha Elkins kennt, der weiß, dass ihre Texte viel Inhalt haben. Schon ihre letzte Single “Candyland” war geprägt von politischen Statements. Ihre Themen berühren alle mögliche Bereiche, Liebesbeziehungen, Glaube, Tod sowie die aktuelle politische Lage.

Schon in der Vergangenheit provozierte Tabitha Elkins gerne mit ihren Texten und Videos, was nicht immer so gut ankam. Mit dem selbst-gemachten Video für den anti-Kriegs Song, "Candyland", bekam sie die Aufmerksamkeit von Alternative Presse wie "Op Ed News", aber gleichzeitig sorgte sie für heftige Kritik auf den sozialen Medien. Jetzt begeistert Tabitha nicht nur mit ihrem neuen Album "Upside Down World", sondern auch mit ihrem brandneuen Video für "Edge of Nowhere".

In “Edge of Nowhere” singt die 39-jährige Deutsch-Amerikanerin über ihr hartes Leben, soziale Ungerechtigkeit und den Ausbruch nach neuem. Dieses Thema ist auch für Tabitha Elkins etwas ganz besonderes. Geboren in Camden, New Jersey zog sie im Alter von 6 Monaten mit ihren Eltern nach Trenton, Hauptstadt von New Jersey und post-industrielle Ghettostadt. Dort aufgewachsen lernte sie schnell, mit Armut und Missständen umzugehen. Nachdem ihre Mutter später die Familie verließ, lebte sie mit ihren Geschwistern und alleinerziehender Vater. Als Teenager, zog sie aus ihrem Familienhaus, um nach New York City ihrem Glück als Musiker und Studentin zu finden.

Nach 11. September 2001, entschloss sie sich nochmal einen große Schritt ins unbekannte zu machen: Sie wanderte aus nach Deutschland, Geburtsort ihrer Mutter, und hat hier eine zweite Heimat, sowohl ein zweiter Pass bekommen. In dem neuen Video, die Bunte Musiker spielen umgeben von düstere Graffiti- befleckten Mauern, verottete, verlassene Bahnhäuser und gebrochenem Glas. Das stilvolle Video wurde in Worms von Harald Fröhlich gedreht.

Interview with Jacqueline Cassel:

Where did your interest in "Retro-Nova" music sprout from? It's a genre you don't see often!

I have lots of different influences. I grew up in an area with lots of hip-hop, soul and R&B music, plus latin music from the Puerto Rican neighbors! My parents only listened to classical music, my older brother listened to rock, jazz and reggae and my sister got into country-rock, folk-rock and Americana. As a student, I lived in a Dominican neighborhood in Manhattan, played jazz in the college jazz ensemble and wrote my own indie music. Eventually, I started experimenting more and more with combining these influences.

Who are some of your musical influences, why?

I grew up listening to everything- classic rock like Prince, U2, punk music on college radio (WPRB in Princeton), then got into jazz, blues and hard rock. I listen to everything from Bessie Smith, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith to newer music like the Espers, Regina Spektor and Duffy. I still love hard bop jazz (Horace Silver is my favorite jazz composer/ pianist). When I need to chill out, I listen to Jazzanova, Beethoven or Celtic music. It all depends on my mood. My influences as a songwriter are all of the greats- Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young or female singer-songwriters like Suzanne Vega, Joan Osborne or Adele. I love it when a song sets the mood and tells a story.

Tell us about Upside Down World, which you released under Mind Guard Records!

This CD really took a lot out of me! I was going through a turbulent time in my life, and you can hear the emotion in my voice when I was recording. Also, the themes I write about- love, death, war, spirituality- are not easy to sing about. You really have to allow yourself to be emotionally honest and raw. The process took much longer than either I or my producer, Steffen, thought it would, and then there were problems with shipping because of customs!

What was the recording/writing process like?

Some of these songs were written back when I was living in New York, and others were not yet finished, and needed polishing. I tend to work best alone, so I made demos of my songs and sent them to Steffen. Then we had to sometimes change the arrangements, change the vocals, etc. I played most of the instruments myself, but got some help from the website.

Which song would you say was the most challenging to write/record?

Candyand was written out of a sense of urgency, because of the political situation in the Middle East, and the war propaganda. I found that I had written a song that is not easy to sing!

Which song do you prefer to play live? Why?

"Upside Down World" because it has easy chords. (laughs). That and the fact that it is a socially critical song that is also funny and light-hearted. I found out later that this is a popular hash tag.

When you aren't writing, or performing, what takes up your time?
I have been learning ancient languages- Latin, Hebrew and Greek. I also love traveling, and I am not yet finished with that Bucketlist. Perhaps I'll climb Mount Kilimanjaro sometime. If I had more time, I'd spend it cycling or hiking with friends, but it seems that my schedule does not permit it right now.