Elliah Heifetz doesn’t see the world in absolutes, nor does his music spend its time advocating for any specific avenue of thought. Based out of Brooklyn, he’s a singer-songwriter whose work belongs to the complex folk narratives woven many decades past. His songs are stories, insightful and honest — musical moments dedicated to discovering significant ideas and emotions which few other artists would even recognize, let alone know how to present in all their ruralistic beauty. There’s both a minimalist storytelling arch and a complex emotional grandeur filling every second of resonant sound and lyrical intuition that Heifetz offers.
A first-generation American, Heifetz’s father and mother were Soviet refugees who sought a better life for themselves and their son. And though his childhood had obstacles, he developed a way to cope with these problems through poetry and music, eventually going on to study literature at Yale after high school. His talent for writing expressive and evocative songs led him to create music for various New York stages and a handful of different pop projects. His current folk compulsions have allowed him to embrace the tones and melodies of this particular rhythmic history while also carving out a decidedly unique niche within the genre’s larger framework.
He’s currently set to release a new EP, “Some Folk Songs,” on May 24, and through it, he delivers a set of songs which plays to his affinity for exploring an all-encompassing view of folk music. Fascinated with the transient nature and intent of these sounds, he blends his childhood influences (his parents raised him on classical and klezmer music) with those that have guided him in recent years. The result in a gorgeous and aching ode to both traditional and modernist interpretations of folk music’s inherent intimacy as well as its tendency toward communal interaction.
On recent single, “My Heart,” he creates a conversation between his heart and himself – it may even be something of a one-sided discussion – and attempts to reconcile the acts of that specific organ with the contrasting impulses from his brain. His earnest attention to everyday life, which is reminiscent of fellow storyteller M. Ward’s affecting plainspokenness, catches you off-guard, rendering your emotional defenses moot and causing you to fall headlong into the song’s acoustic depths.
“Inspired by Mississippi John Hurt's finger picking and “Delta Momma Blues”-era Townes Van Zandt, this song is sort of a joke about heartbreak,” Heifetz explains. “It's like a buddy comedy about me and my heart. Or a love triangle between me, my heart, and some other heart. Mostly it's just an easy song to listen to while walking around.”