A product of personal processing, exhaustive experimentation and a “search and search” approach, the artist’s third album is about “vulnerability… allowing the walls to come down and accepting your own failures and imperfections”
Forgiving Season, the third album from Elijah Wolf, is the equal result of two journeys: inward and outside—which took place, simultaneously, at an upstate studio nestled between the Catskill and Shawangunk Mountains.
As the story goes, Elijah was riding high after the success of his second album before a series of setbacks (and general music industry BS) left him depressed, disillusioned and grappling with a confusing contradiction: He was unsure if he wanted to keep making music, but he couldn’t imagine a world in which he’d be able to quit.
It was during this period of uncertainty and self-doubt that he accepted an invitation to get out of the city—and, hopefully, out of his head. He, along with his drummer and collaborator Joshua Jaeger, headed to the aforementioned studio of Sam Cohen, where the three embarked on a mutual mission: to make something of the material that Elijah had slowly been piecing together but, in his creatively crippled state, had been unable to complete. To work together to make the album the artist knew that he needed to, not just for the sake of the songs but for the sake of his soul.
“In that moment, I felt like I needed to see this through,” Elijah said. “This would be a chance to dig deep into myself and figure out what had been going on with me during this dark chapter in my life.”
What followed was a period equally defined by musical experimentation and emotional excavation. On the process side, the three artists abandoned the more traditional folk-rock sound and method in favor of throwing anything, and everything, at the wall to see what stuck—while recording, then often re-recording, it all, of course.
“This was the path we chose for this record: Search and search,” Elijah said.
At the same time, on the personal front, the friends spent their time bonding over life and art, digging deep, opening up and providing one another with a safe space to share what they were each going through—and, as a result, cultivating the very ease and intimacy that the record itself is steeped in.
“While we were experimenting with different production techniques, we were above all journeying inward, talking about life and what we were all going through,” Elijah said. “It became a sort of group therapy session.”
And while they were going in, they were also venturing out. The upstate setting wasn’t just a change of scenery, but also a source of inspiration and even instrumentals.
“I wanted actual sounds to portray a time-lapse, almost, of plants growing and trees budding and nature coming back to life,” Elijah said. “We went outside and walked around the property, recording with our phones bird sounds and rain hitting leaves, and we used those sounds in the songs.”
Winter giving way to spring is, of course, a phenomenon that isn’t just cyclical, but endlessly symbolic. The world was re-awakening, and Elijah was too. While the second album is called Brighter Lighting, this one evokes a sense of lightening. Forgiving Season feels, and even sounds, like a change of seasons… a shedding of negative thoughts and past selves… a sonic segue from a dark, difficult past to a new present and a hopeful future.
As for the name of the album, it’s a reference to the artist’s attempt to heal his relationship with himself.
“When I was able to make sense of these pieced-together demos and scattered lyrics, I began a process of forgiving myself for so much,” he said. “In the end, I wrote a record about vulnerability, about the ways that mechanisms of self-protection can make you miss the good around you. It’s about allowing the walls to come down and accepting your own failures and imperfections.”
Following the album’s June 23 release, Elijah provided a breakdown of the record’s ten tracks, which feel like a collection of caring letters, written to himself, in which we can all find some wisdom. Gentle reminders to let go, banish bad thoughts and look around for the beauty that’s always, always there.
FORGIVING SEASON—TRACK BY TRACK:
“Intro (A New Season)“
“I had the idea of an intro to welcome the listener into the world of Forgiving Season, but didn’t write one before going into the studio. I kept mentioning it to Sam throughout the recording process, and after we had finished the bulk of recording, we set some time for improve between Sam, Myself, and artist Photay (Evan Shornstein.) I sat behind the piano, Evan behind the Buchla, and Sam controlling a Tape Delay. We wrote it together, in real time. A very fun process. It’s also meant to sound like a time lapse of nature coming back to life after a long winter.”
“The title track took on a few different meanings in the studio. I wrote it as a center piece for this record, and originally had a much more folk rock arrangement in mind. We started recording a version in that world, before deciding it sounded too much like something that would go on my last record. We all took a pause and made a decision to go off the deep end on experimentation and exploration in sound. Sam began playing the bass line and Joshua Jaeger began drumming along.”
“You Come Through”
“‘You Come Through’ is a letter to myself. It’s simply a reminder to look around and find the beauty that’s always around, even when it gets dark.”
“We Talked About It”
“This song was a journey to make! We recorded four different versions! In all different genres and feel. We would get so excited and then realize it wasn’t the right arrangement for the song. Finally, we took the drums from the third arrangement, looped it, and had it on repeat in the studio. That’s when Sam sat behind the piano and started playing the chords. We set up a mic close to the piano in the same room to force me to sing really quietly.”
“I wrote ‘Care Anymore’ about feeling overwhelmed by life in my twenties. We tried to create a real sense of panic and anxiety in this version, while also creating a real release at the realization of letting it all go.”
“Holding This In”
“Joshua Jaeger and I wrote this song together, while at the studio. A few days into recording the album I woke up early and went into the studio before anyone else was there. I was humming the melody of the chorus all morning and began putting it to chords. Joshua came in began listening. The ideas began to flow and together we wrote this song. Sam got to the studio and we presented it to him. Recorded it same day!”
“‘Sun Batter’ is about a superhero who can destroy negative thoughts; envisioning I had this power to destroy my own negative thoughts.”
“I had a full version of this song with lyrics and all. But once we began jamming on this one in the studio it took on a new life. We took the main guitar line I wrote and together wrote the rest from the ground up. I decided this was also a good moment to digest all of the lyrics and melodies of the record so far. A nice moment to take a breath.”
“I wrote this song about not wanting to burn out. About taking care of yourself and your mental health.”
“‘Fading’ is about feeling overwhelming love for someone, and the conversation you may have with yourself to make sure you don’t self-sabotage.”
Celebrate the record at the album-release show at TV Eye with Bloomsday, closebye and DJ Britt Jones (Trash Casual) next Tuesday, July 18th! Grab your tix here.
Feature image provided by the artist.