Elisha David’s story is a familiar one in Bend. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist moved to the city from his native California a little more than a year ago, although he’d been visiting family here for about a decade previously. He soon fell in love with the place, and Oregon in general, and wanted to pay tribute to his new home state — hence his second studio album, “Made in Oregon,” released last month.
“This is such a beautiful state and everyone who lives here takes pride in that,” David said via email. “I really admire that mindset, and hope these songs help convey that feeling.”
David’s 2017 debut, “Signs & Wonders,” found the budding songwriter experimenting with French waltz piano and keyboard (he had just picked up the instrument shortly before writing the album, he said). “Made in Oregon” integrates this interest with the rest of his arsenal, including guitar (his first instrument), banjo, ukulele, viola and electronic beats.
The resulting 12 songs run together in an ethereal soundscape that does a fine job of evoking Oregon’s own ethereal, natural beauty. Think soft-spoken folkies such as Sufjan Stevens or Nick Drake (the latter especially on album closer and strong contender for best track on the album, “The Summer Ends in Rain”).
Song titles reference familiar Oregon places and landmarks. “Siskiyou (Forest Fires! Goldmines! Bigfoot?)” is the most playful track here, with David’s upbeat banjo plinking and whispered singing supplemented by vocals from Amanda and Annika Schniepp. The instrumental lullaby “Stars Over Sisters” is another highlight, bringing to mind The Beatles “Good Night.” While most of the material is intricately orchestrated, some of the best songs strip back the layers, such as the aforementioned “The Summer Ends in Rain” and “Crater Lake,” a yearning, sunny bit of folk-pop that builds dramatically before fading away with some piano tinkling and synth swells.
— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin