Music » Critics' Picks

These United States

9 p.m. Wednesday, September 3. Billiken Club, in the Busch Student Center on the campus of Saint Louis University, 20 North Grand Boulevard



Whenever Jesse Elliott and his sister would begin to bicker in the back seat on family car trips, their mother would threaten them with participating in campfire sing-alongs. Though the harmonica-led tunes were intended to be a creative form of discipline, Elliott (who records as These United States) now realizes that the family sing-alongs were a strong influence on his approach to songwriting. "For me, music is a communal thing," he says. "I think this is part of what I've always loved about African music, and also even the campfire thing. I never thought about that connection before." The music on his A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden finds inspiration in landscapes, bright colors and indigenous folk music from a period of his life spent in Mexico, as well as in the objects of his pining while in Europe. Still, his musings condense quite tidily into a surprisingly pop-conscious product in spite of the varied perspectives involved.

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