September 14, 2017
The Paula Boggs Band Releases ‘Elixir: The Soulgrass Sessions’
Seattle-based Band Continues Citizen-Artistry Theme on New Album
NEW YORK – September 14, 2017 – The Paula Boggs Band is certainly not afraid to take a stand: In its 10 years, the Seattle-based group has taken their responsibility as citizen-artists to heart — creating music that both entertains and encourages listeners to look at the world through a more unifying lens. Elixir: The Soulgrass Sessions, releasing tomorrow, September 15, is no exception — the 11-song collection mixes political-minded calls to action with love songs and personal reflections.
Paula Boggs, the band’s frontwoman, has led a life full of accomplishments – most recently a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities (PCAH) who resigned on August 18. Her devotion to public service started early as an Army Airborne veteran and later as a federal prosecutor. She later spent time as vice president at Dell and years as Starbucks’ top lawyer, before deciding to focus on music full-time. She never lost her dedication to the betterment of herself and the community around her, now encouraging unity and action in her music.
With Elixir, as on previous collections, Boggs and the band hope to inspire listeners to embrace the community around them and get involved. In many ways, the centerpiece of the collection, the album’s first single, “Benediction,” is a gospel-tinged urge for more love to exist in all facets of life. Boggs wrote the redemptive song in the wake of the 2015 mass-shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. “Sleepwalking” urges vigilance in the face of apathy and cynicism, amidst resonant piano and acoustic guitars, while “Peel the Charade” repeats, “Heal us, heal us.”
There are personal notes weaved throughout the album still; “Rearview Mirror” was written as a farewell to Santa Fe, where Boggs owned a home for 15 years. Banjo, piano and a wash of cymbals are arranged over wordless vocal harmonies. The band dials into a reverential feel on the love song, “Gypsy Sapphire,” as banjo and mandolin parts intertwine over subtle backing from acoustic guitar and keyboards. They’ve also included a spellbinding version of Bon Iver’s “Holocene,” their arrangement letting every lyric and instrument shine.
Rounding out the lineup on Elixir is guitarist and banjo player Mark Chinen; bassist and vocalist Isaac Castillo; multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Eric Vanderbilt Matthews; percussionist and vocalist Tor Dietrichson; and drummer Sandy Greenbaum. The Paula Boggs Band formed in 2007, released Carnival of Miracles in 2015, followed by Live From Empty Sea: Songs of Protest and Hope in January of this year.