Paul Basile, singer and primary songwriter of New York-based indie rockers Great Elk, is spending the winter playing solo shows. Great Elk’s 2012 release Autogeography is a sweeping, tuneful and epic work of American indie music. There’s a little Death Cab For Cutie-style romantic sadness in the soaring chorus of “The Weight Of The Sea,” and in the refrain from the song “Give Up,” Basile sings, “Let’s give up trying to be magnificent.”
Now and then Basile’s voice has a touch of Ryan Adams and Paul Westerberg’s everyman drawl. In “I’m Going to Bend,” he sings over mournful acoustic strumming and atmospheric piano: “When the wind blows/ When the heart shakes/ I know, I know, I know/ I’m going to bend/ I know I’m going to break.” Elsewhere, in the ballad “Two Weeks,” a gentle Hammond organ hums, and in the triumphant anthem “In Our Tunnel Under Water,” electric guitars walk a tightrope between contemporary country music and straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll.
On the Great Elk website, Autogeography producer James Goodwin (Norah Jones, The Bravery) says: “Quite frankly, this is one of the great records I’ve worked on. Paul is a fantastic songwriter.” Catch Basile play stripped-down acoustic versions of songs from Autogeography and more.
Paul Basile plays 8:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 19, at Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove; $3.