Fans of the Eli Young Band’s earlier work are in luck. “Fingerprints,” released June 16, is a return to the band’s Texas Country roots. After a trip down the more slickly produced roads that led to “10,000 Towns,” 2015’s “Turn It On” EP and a crossover collaboration with Andy Grammar on “Honey, I’m Good,” “Fingerprints” places the band firmly back in “Level” territory.
Drummer Chris Thompson said that was no accident— it was what the fans wanted.
“We had heard the fans saying that they wanted us to get back to the stuff that made us The Eli Young Band, and we wanted to make that record,” Thompson told me over the phone this week.
“Fingerprints” deals in nostalgia and adult themes, far from the night-out antics of “Turn it On.” The title track deals with the lingering effects of a one-sided relationship and comments on how the more things change, the more they stay the same. First single “Saltwater Gospel” explores a more open-minded way to worship. “Skin & Bones,” co-written with Lori McKenna, is probably the band’s best summation of marriage and love so far: “She's in my skin and bones/She's grace and glory/She's a backroads home/She's a long story/She's the one goodbye that I can't even imagine/She's a well thought out plan and I don't know how it happened.”
As a whole, it’s the band’s most consistent album so far, and largely comes through on its promise to deliver the fans a more stripped-down, authentic experience. Even the more slickly-produced tracks, like “Gospel,” ring true to the group’s aesthetic. And even though the band worked with the same production team they worked with on “Turn It On,” the band wrote eight of the album’s 11 tracks.
“We’ve grown as musicians at this point in our careers, so we don’t feel the need to prove anything by going big,” Thompson said. “This album really is just us taking stock of everything in our lives. This one is steeped in adulthood and it’s about where we are as men and as a band.”
The group has been together since forming at the University of North Texas in 2000.
“We spent most of our 20s on the road touring and having a good time, and by now we’ve been through marriages, births, deaths, the whole ting, so there’s two years of continuous life experiences that I hope people will pick up on there,” Thompson said.
“We’ve listened to a lot of what the fans wanted, and hopefully we have their approval.”
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