Album review: "Um, Uh, Oh"
Eric Elbogen, a.k.a. Say Hi, is more articulate than the title of his new album, "Um, Uh Oh," suggests. The 12 songs aren't wordy but do offer well-observed vignettes of modern life. What's pruned severely on the Seattle one-man band's seventh album is the music.
"Um, Uh Oh'' employs the usual rock instruments but not always at the same time. The rhythm section is prominent and sometimes preeminent: The insistent "Devils," one of the standouts, is constructed mostly from bass, drums and vocals, until keyboards enter for a brief coda. The spare, rumbling sound suits the ominous lyrics, which lament the inability to "make it back from the dark, dark, dark."
Elbogen has a gruff voice, which he doesn't sweeten with vocal harmonies. Yet this album includes melodious elements that create an interesting tension with the singer's rasp. The pretty riff underlying "Take Ya' Dancin' " promises a sweeping chorus that never quite arrives, and "Trees Are a Swayin' " uses a stately piano motif to certify Elbogen's grand promise to "love you till the end of the world." Both songs are testaments to Say Hi's impressive powers of suggestion.
- Mark Jenkins, March 2011