By: Jessica Grose
Back in the hard-bitten days of yore, it used to be that cowboys had hearts of steel. Cowboys were solitary men, riding stouthearted through the American West. Cowboys didn’t cry, and they certainly didn’t have wavering tenors like Blake Sennett, lead singer of the Elected: His vulnerable voice lingers ever-so-slightly into falsetto. But it’s a new millennium now, and along with babyfaced Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, the Elected is ushering in a new era of the sensitive cowboy. Their songs take cues from spaghetti western soundtracks, replete with lap steel and slowly plodding guitar work, but ultimately they’re like Ennio Morricone as sung by Rufus Wainwright.
Sennett, who is also a singer and co-songwriter in the Jenny Lewis-fronted Rilo Kiley, has an obsession with the good old days in Sun, Sun, Sun, the Elected’s second full-length album. Two of the standout songs on Sun, Sun, Sun play with the theme of nostalgia. “Not Going Home” uses the somewhat-hackneyed maxim about never being able to really go home again, while “Old Times” is a lamenting screed to an ex-lover, where Sennett uses the same idea of not being able to go home again — but this time home is a lover, not a place. “I wished I had the guts / Enough to say / I wish you could spend the night / and it would be like old times,” Sennett sings with near-Elliott Smith levels of defenselessness.
Sennett might be crying into his Stetson, but he sure does make some pretty music. He is joined on Sun, Sun, Sun by Jason Boesel and Ryland Steen on drums, Daniel Brummel and Mike Runion on bass, and Mike Bloom on the lap steel and mouth organ. Sun, Sun, Sun hits stores today on Sub Pop, and the Elected will play a record release show tonight in Seattle before launching a tour supporting Stars on Feb. 8.
The Elected tour dates:
1/24, Seattle, WA (Crocodile Cafï¿½)2/8, Seattle, WA (Showbox)*2/9, Portland, OR (Aladdin Theatre) * 2/10, San Francisco, CA (The Fillmore) * 2/11, Hollywood, CA (The Avalon) * 2/12, San Diego, CA (The Casbah) * 2/14, Boulder, CO (Fox Theatre and Cafï¿½) * 2/16, Saint Louis, MO (The Gargoyle) * 2/17, Chicago, IL (Metro) * (* Opening for Stars)