You’re unlikely to be familiar with the name T. G. Elias. At present, Elias seems to spend his time travelling between small, select venues who provide valuable opportunities for underground musicians to take their first tentative steps, and reveal their wares to an audience full of expectation and preconception. Elias boasts a distinct originality and intimacy that promises instant seduction, and it’s difficult to imagine an audience who wouldn’t ditch any expectations or preconceptions to fall under his potent spell.
As a reviewer, one of the laziest things you can do is to hail the new Dylan, every time a guitar-toting, harmonica-playing male turns up on the music scene. However, looking beyond these rudimentary musical props, there is still much about Elias that evokes the ghost of early Dylan. The Man In The Iron Cage has those same lonesome hobo echoes that permeated Dylan’s earlier work, portraying a similarly mischievous and obtuse narrative, and folk-blues influence. Elias could well take up the mantle of the voice of yet another restless generation, albeit five decades on from Dylan’s similar exploits.
“The Banqueting Cup” is an unashamed love song, in worship of a beguiling female, where Elias doesn’t baulk in sharing the physical nature of this attraction, and the ultimate intimacy of discovery: “I played the old master when I unhooked your clothes.” This isn’t the sole instance of lustful yearnings, where Elias reveals a playful, flirty way with words; a strategy which may prove to be a key attraction, particularly to female members of his audience. However, closer examination of the lyrics often reveal intentions of an overtly carnal nature, rather than the more innocent tones of romance with which they are delivered. Elias appears to be pretty cunning when it comes to smooth talk!
There are moments tinged with gospel influences, with Elias rising perfectly to the challenge with his effortlessly soulful voice: “Love Is Armed With Only Hate And War” showcases a meditative approach, whilst “A Wicked Tongue” offers a much more rousing and uplifting alternative. The sole instrumental track on the album, “A Rag For Ronnie,” is an energetic folk-blues romp on the guitar and harmonica, which appears to reach an unexpected and unintentionally premature close.
There is a simplicity about the music on The Man In The Iron Cage that cleverly combines engaging melodies, a nonchalant approach to performance that is brimming with fun, and lyrics that offer depth and candour. The stirring and expressive voice of Elias binds all this together perfectly, resulting in an absorbing listening experience, that is sure to leave you wanting more.
Rock Upon the Sand in Paradise:
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/opmcyazeub.mp3|titles=Rock Upon the Sand in Paradise|artists=T.G. Elias]
Love is Only Armed with Hater and War:
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/svq08o24ka.mp3|titles=Love is Only Armed with Hater and War|artists=T.G. Elias]
You can catch up with T. G. Elias on MySpace
Review by Mike Wilson