By day, Elephant Micah’s Joseph O'Connell works as a folklorist, documenting the local culture of southern Indiana and other Midwest regions. Not surprisingly, his songs seem to emerge from habits of travel and observation. Their account of the phenomenal world is as vivid as it is mysterious, equal parts ethnographic fact and fable.
For the past 14 years, O'Connell has quietly self-released his work on CD-R and limited LPs, sometimes collaborating with the psych-folk imprint Time-Lag Records or other very small labels. Despite the project’s almost secretive status, Elephant Micah has repeatedly caught the attention of NPR, and has been championed by an impressive cohort of like-minded artists, including Jason Molina, Patterson Hood, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Dark Dark Dark.
Over time, O’Connell’s songwriting has grown in confidence and intensity, while maintaining its signature restraint. Where in Our Woods, the 12th Elephant Micah album and the first for Western Vinyl, is the fruit of this long-term creative progress.
...unavoidable and real…these songs have a way of bringing one back down to earth and re-revealing what's always been there, what's old to be discovered, revisited, embraced.
This record might be his best yet. Beautiful and haunting.
…a refined throwback to '70s folk-rock, laced with modern, dark Americana.
A beautiful slice of narcoleptic folk that captures the lugubrious nothing-to-do feel of late summer days as well as the slow motion dance of dust in a ray of sunlight.
…equipped with production values that big-budget acts seek and lengthy songs that somehow don’t wear out their welcome.
Beyond the simple, yet always catchy melodies composed of O’Connell’s deft strums and plucks lies lyrical magic.
It seems impossible in the internet age for a “best-kept secret” to exist, but somehow, Indiana’s Elephant Micah fits the bill.
A stealthy album, which rewards your patience.
Joe O’Connell would probably hate to be called anything that reeks of teleology — say, ‘groundbreaking’ or ‘forward-thinking’ — so I’ll have to settle for ‘revelatory.
Haunted Americana at its lo-fi best. Unendingly elegant.