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Eli Young Band

Fingerprints – 2017 (Valory)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Eli Young Band

Eli Young Band confused, alienated and even lost some of its fans with the 2015 release of a fully slicked up pop EP; "Turn It On." "The fans wanted another record that was the sound and the kind of songs that were the old-school Eli Young Band" said lead singer Mike Eli. They have responded with "Fingerprints," their first full length album since 2014's "10,000 Towns." Though clearly not as blatantly pop as the downright danceable EP, "Fingerprints" is still glossy, slightly tepid and laden with catchy choruses and pleasing melodies.

Though the band has traditionally been reliant on outside songwriters, the quartet had a hand in writing eight of the album's 11 tracks which gives the record a more personal feel, especially on "Skin and Bones," written by Eli and Lori McKenna about his wife, Kacey. The song details of how he and his partner are essentially a single being as she is so intertwined throughout every step of his life. The opener and current single, "Saltwater Gospel" is a fun, Kenny Chesney-esque clone about finding God while barefoot in clothes that can get wet while others are dressed in their Sunday best.

Despite their stated desire to move away from the pop sound (Eli admitted the EP was a departure for the band and just an opportunity to do some fun things and not necessarily reflective of their core identity). they still employed the same production duo they worked with on the EP, Ross Copperman and Jeremy Stover. Ironically, one of the album's better tracks is the elegantly simple "Old Songs." If the band's desire to get back to the "old school sound, they are still a long way from the roots rock heavy "Life At Best" which spawned "Crazy Girl" and "Even If It Breaks Your Heart.