Elm at Odessa – Review
Dublin band Elm launched their self-titled debut EP on Wednesday night in the plush surroundings of the Odessa Club. With the room decked out in an array of fairy lights, and cut-out images of trees adorning the walls, the scene was set for the band, who only formed last September but have made massive progress in the subsequent months, gracing the main stage of Whelan’s as part of their One’s To Watch showcase and recording material with Snow Patrol drummer Jonny Quinn.
Beginning their set with new EP track ‘Innocence’, those gathered in attendance were immediately aware that they were watching something very special. Frontman Dylan Walsh has an alluring voice that is at the forefront of Elm’s sound. Great on record but even better live, his hushed androgynous tones bear similarities to Michael David Rosenberg AKA Passenger of ‘Let Her Go’ fame, but as many of tonight’s songs build to a pulsating finale, he regularly breaks into a howl reminiscent of Paolo Nutini at his soulful best. Such versatility is also evident in his fellow band members who alternate between guitar, piano, and cello with ease. The inclusion of the cello in Elm’s setup helps marks them out from the standard 4 piece band, adding a haunting quality to their music. With elements of post-rock bands such as Halves and Sigur Ros, the band’s ethereal sound revolves around sparse guitar lines and atmospheric piano chords, interspersed with lush cello melodies. Much of their material begins softly, gradually building over time before exploding to a thrillingly energetic climax, much like Foals indie classic ‘Spanish Sahara’. With their debut EP released this week, the audience were treated to plenty of new music alongside the EP’s 3 tracks. Thankfully the new songs sound equally as impressive as the bands released material, with ‘So It Seems’ and ‘Preach’ being particular standouts. Melancholic debut single ‘Concentrate’ is the most familiar to the audience’s ears, with its cryptic video attracting much attention over the last month, and tonight’s performance of the song is note perfect. The Odessa club audience make a notable contribution to the shows atmosphere, maintaining a respectful silence throughout the quieter moments of the set, erupting into enthusiastic applause as each song draws to a close.
Elm’s music somehow finds a perfect middle ground between intimate and cinematic, most evident in new song ‘Creature’, its desolate atmosphere sounding custom made for movie soundtracks. Finishing their set with ‘Aware’, possibly the best track from their new release, it leaves the packed crowd wanting more. The perfect blend of a wonderful venue, respectful audience and a band on top form throughout, mark this out as a special show that will live long in the memory of both band and audience. With a beautiful haunting sound and the ability to really deliver in live performance, Elm also have the added bonus of sounding like no-one else on the current Dublin scene. Tonight is an astonishingly assured performance from such a young band and marks them out as one of the most exciting new acts in the country.
Review by Gary O’Donnell