Nick Carswell & The Elective Orchestra
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Nick Carswell & The Elective Orchestra

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The album is dead, long live the album. Judging by radio and popular media, you would be easily convinced of the death of the 'LP' - long-player - as a format, with downloads, streaming, Spotify and other jargon bandied about, while record companies turn their focus elsewhere to raise revenue.
Therefore, the release of an accomplished album from a local arts is to be celebrated; this, from Nick Carswell and The Elective Orchestra, is amongst that rare breed. Indeed, with Mark O'Connor and Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters also about to drop LPs, we are indeed blessed in Limerick music circles at the moment.
This much anticipated offering - almost two years in the making - brings a delightful orchestration, delicate songwriting and warm musicianship, in the mould of Nick Drake, Chris Martin and Paul McCartney, to a proper, old-fashioned "album" concept.
That concept is demonstrated by the opening and closing tracks on the record. 'Waking Up (Is Hard To Do)' is essentially the opening track, bookended beautifully by two instrumental pieces; 'Quiet Like A Sleeping Lake', boasting a slow orchestral build-up, and 'Reprise, Or Now That You're Awake, What Are You Gonna Do?', a throbbing, clarinet and bass-led groove that Sufjan Stevens himself would be proud of.
To close the album, the delicate 'Oceanview' is likewise bookended gracefully by the twisted, effects-driven 'Sunrise' and the wistful 'Thank You'.
This decision, a quirky and eclectic touch, reinforces that album concept, making it a worthwhile one and not something to be dismissed, resulting in an album to be listened to all the way through, genuinely rewarding the listener.
In between, there are several standouts; the gentle and emotive 'From The Ground Up'; the plucked strings of 'When I'm Not Around', a song with a darker edge than those around it; the Frames-For The Birds moment of 'How The West Was Won'; and the slow, jazzy groove of the Coldplay-esque 'Hallelujah (I Don't Believe)'.
The album is dead? Long live the album - The Limerick Leader


The Word' is a superb debut album from The Elective Orchestra. If there is a new 'Indie-Folk' movement then The Elective Orchestra would be at it's forefront.
There are many good things to write about 'The Word'. I love how the vocals are so clear on the album enabling the lyrics to become visible. Nick's vocals remind me of Tom Barman of Deus fame. Songs like 'Running on Empty' and my favourite track on the album 'From The Ground Up' have Nick's vocals at the forefront with a wonderful soundtrack encircling the lyrics and vocals. 'From The Ground Up' in particular uses the strings and guitar to emphasis both the despair of failing as well as the rejuvenation from that despair and clarity of life's important aspect.
There are 15 tracks on the album but six of them are instrumentals and act as introductions, reprises or in the case of 'Plus! A TV Theme Tune For The New Chief!' a bit of a mid album fun break. The instrumentals showcase the wonderful musicianship of the band which includes cello, violins, piano as well as guitars, bass and drums. They also allow for epic songs like 'Halleluia (I Don't Believe)' and 'Oceanview' that bit of reflective breathing space which other artists overlook.
On the band's website they state; "Nick Carswell & The Elective Orchestra have chosen to make meaningful acoustic music that makes you stop and think." @the Word' certainly does achieve this and more. The strings and orchestral arrangements enables me to stop, think and admire the beauty of the songs I'm listening to. I hope over time people will discover the beauty that lies in the debut album from The Elective Orchestra.

The Elective Orchestra - The Word [11 out of 12]
- 2uibestow Music Blog


You may have heard of Nick Carswell from his input into west of Ireland band Brad Pitt Light Orchestra. Smarty-pants name equals smarty-pants band, but BPLO’s saving grace is that they put their money where their mouths are. Carswell and his Elective Orchestra are a different proposition, yet one that also knows how to put points across in ways that make you pay attention. Musically, The Word is more acoustic/folk-based, and lyrically it’s far less cerebral than BPLO’s often ridiculously dazzling range of imagery – songs here focus on sincere, heartfelt musings on love, loneliness and longing, with the likes of Folks Like Us, Running on Empty, Oceanview and When You Break Down cutting to the emotional chase. Clever? Yes, that too, but this time out Carswell speaks from the heart. It suits him. See theelectiveorchestra.com - The Irish Times


You may have heard of Nick Carswell from his input into west of Ireland band Brad Pitt Light Orchestra. Smarty-pants name equals smarty-pants band, but BPLO’s saving grace is that they put their money where their mouths are. Carswell and his Elective Orchestra are a different proposition, yet one that also knows how to put points across in ways that make you pay attention. Musically, The Word is more acoustic/folk-based, and lyrically it’s far less cerebral than BPLO’s often ridiculously dazzling range of imagery – songs here focus on sincere, heartfelt musings on love, loneliness and longing, with the likes of Folks Like Us, Running on Empty, Oceanview and When You Break Down cutting to the emotional chase. Clever? Yes, that too, but this time out Carswell speaks from the heart. It suits him. See theelectiveorchestra.com - The Irish Times


At first glance, and by now the prospect of another folk/rock singer/songwriter from Ireland could easily pass me by, but Nick Carswell is anything but run-of-the-mill. I am listening to his demos that he's made with a string section (who go by the moniker 'The Elective Orchestra'). Even more reason for this rock aficionado and hard bitten reviewer to cringe?... wrong. The combination is sublime. Nick is a first class songwriter and interprets each and every song with soul, feeling and passion. The addition of emotive strings and piano only magnifies the overall experience and makes these demos something a bit special. Imagine if you will a modern, emotional spin on a song like Eleanor Rigby ('To all the small people') or Penny Lane ('Oceanview') such is the depth of style that Nick effortlessly summons up.

If these are only demos I can't wait to hear the finished article. Wonderful, heart-achingly good songs
Review by Drumhead
RANK: ****** 6 OUT OF 6
- MusicReveiw.com


There is a very palpable sense of something happening in Limerick. There is a buzz or a sense of ‘zeitgeist’ if you will. This is particularly noticeable when people start returning to live in the city having left years ago. No one personifies this more that Nick Carswell. Born and bred in Limerick, upon finishing school Nick departed for the brighter lights of Dublin. A multi-instrumentalist, he was playing the piano before his feet could touch the pedals and he taught himself guitar soon after. During his sojourn in the capital, Nick quickly established himself as a highly rated pianist and has played in most of the top establishments around the city. As a ‘piano player to the stars’ he has most notably been a regular in the exclusive Lillies Bordello, where he has accompanied luminaries as diverse as Ronnie Wood and Eamonn Dunphy. This talented young man has also been a founding member of several bands, particularly ‘Brown’ who at their height played regularly in Dublin, including high profile gigs such as the Trinity Ball and were unlucky not to make it to the big time. In his time Nick has played with other Limerick acts such as Figment and Richie McCoy, but has recently begun to concentrate on his own music. Interestingly he has returned to his hometown to try and advance this. Accompanied by several talented musicians, he has also tentatively started to showcase his own blend of acoustic folk rock around the city. His music is characterised by emotive and intelligent lyrics, combined with beautiful and creative musicianship. Nick is also known to dabble in the world of electronica, as his sometime project ‘the elective’ bears testament. Catch Nick and his Elective Orchestra as they play Dolans Upstairs on the 3rd of November supporting the lovely Luan Parle. Nick and his band play a headline gig on November 30th with the equally lovely Jenny Lindfors. Also stay tuned for a demo EP to follow in the near future. For more see www.myspace.com/nickcarswell
- Limerick Event Guide


“In a world becoming increasingly weary of the woe-is-me singer/songwriter genre, it's refreshing to uncover somebody like Carswell who is prepared to think, write and play outside the box. His use of a string section brings a level of sublimity to his top-notch songwriting, and whereas too many songwriters are one-trick ponies, Carswell injects all his work with appropriate degrees of soul and passion.” - Hotpress Magazine


Discography

The Word - LP (2011)
When I'm Not Around/Oceanview - single (2009)

Photos

Bio

It's hard to listen to The Elective Orchestra and not be moved in some way. Lost in the landscapes of the carefully textured orchestration, perhaps. Or pulled into deep introspection by a single notion of beautiful contemplation in the lyrics, inviting you to think about something or someone in your life. Or perhaps simply caught between the dizzying flurry of the orchestra's swirling string crescendos and the gentlest moments of quiet frailty. This is exactly where The Elective Orchestra want you, and while they have you there, it will make for a rewarding listen that will make you stop and think.

Formed as a group of friends who played music together in college in Dublin, Ireland, the band's persona took nearly as long to develop as did the experience that afforded Carswell such a sincere and heartfelt touch with his songwriting. By the time the material that forms their debut album 'The Word' was written, the sound of the band was coherent and unique. The strings performed by sisters Deirdre and Kate Cussen were not added as an afterthought to the musings of a singer-songwriter. Instead, Carswell's songs come alive through the texture of the entire orchestra (with everything from clarinet to glockenspiel), and woven within those stirring string choruses and vocal harmonies are the heart and soul of The Elective Orchestra's music.

Harking back to old-fashioned way a record was created, The Word is an entire work, which plays from start to finish, bookended by two musical trilogies complete with beginning-middle-and-end, as well as several instrumental pieces and other musical oddities. The album begs to be listened to as a complete work and like all good works of art asks questions and presents a landscape and a view of the world unique to these musicians and this songwriter. The Word will take the listener on a journey that continues long after the final chord has been struck.

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“It's refreshing to uncover somebody like Carswell who is prepared to think, write and play outside the box. His use of a string section brings a level of sublimity to his top-notch songwriting, and whereas too many songwriters are one-trick ponies, Carswell injects all his work with appropriate degrees of soul and passion.” Hot Press

"Delightful orchestration, delicate songwriting and gorgeously warm musicianship." - **** The Limerick Chronicle

"Sincere, heartfelt musings on love, loneliness and longing . . . Carswell speaks from the heart. It suits him." - *** The Irish Times