In John Constable’s 19th century paintings of elms, deciduous trees now infested with Dutch elm disease and mostly dead or dying, they look proud but also somewhat moody—somewhere between an oak and a willow, if that helps.
It’s likely that Alex Unger was thinking of both the melancholy beauty and the undercurrent of doomed disease when he named his solo project ELMS. Placed on a lush bed of synthesizers, Alex’s airy-yet-forceful voice soars and then sighs its melodic way around an unlikely set of incensed and hectoring lyrics.
His songs, defiantly stately in the face of what they suggest has been a torrent of abuse, sound as if someone has asked Alex, “Are you ok?,” and instead of saying “No,” he starts singing. ELMS is powerful, original music, with an intriguing central character, and if you haven’t seen him in person, this free recording is an excellent introduction.
ELMS’ Integrity is available for purchase on Bandcamp.
All images courtesy the artist.