Singer-songwriter Elisa Korenne writes intimately introspective songs about her pathways, and the pathways of fringe figures in history. What binds these disparate life journeys is a profound and poetic sensitivity for the human condition. “My work is about cultivating empathy and opening minds and hearts,” Elisa says.
Elisa’s sophisticated accessibility has garnered her favorable comparisons to Liz Phair, Sarah McLachlan, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, and Aimee Mann. She’s performed both nationally and internationally, an overseas highlight being headlining the Nevers-a-Vif music festival in France. Her live resume includes a variety of performing contexts, from exquisite singer-songwriter establishments to theatrical venues where she performs story-and-song concerts based on her oddball character-study compositions.
She’s earned songwriting awards from the Plowshares Songwriting Contest, Sisters Folk Festival, Great American Song Contest, Song of the Year, Song Prize, and the Philadelphia Songwriters’ Project. Elisa’s songs have graced networks such as HBO, VH1, and ABC. The preeminent independent music retailer CD Baby hails Elisa as “one of the best we’ve ever heard,” and Singer & Musician magazine says she “belongs on anyone’s must-play list.” In addition to these accolades, Elisa has received artistic fellowships from The Jerome Foundation, the Ucross Foundation, the Hedgebrook Foundation, Isle Royale National Park, and the Brush Creek Ranch Foundation. Her stunning new album, Concrete, is her most seamless collection of eclectic pop-rock. On it, she gracefully weaves through styles and diversely compelling stories with an assured artistic identity.
Concrete is a scrapbook chronicling character-defining moments in the life of Elisa, and the eccentric personalities she unearths through probing the recesses of folkloric Americana. Taken on an autobiographical level, the songs span a pivotal period in Elisa’s life when the city girl moved from Brooklyn, New York—a metropolis with a population of 8.25 million—to New York Mills, Minnesota, a nook of a town with a population of 1,197.
The album title, Concrete, represents the shifts happening in Elisa’s physical and sentimental landscape during this transitory time. “In New York, I was surrounded by concrete, the streets, the buildings, and the sidewalks. But, at the same time, I didn’t have emotional concreteness,” she reveals. The album documents Elisa finding bliss through a centering love relationship and the sweet simplicity of rural domesticity. Complimenting these revelatory personal narratives are fascinating, quasi-mythical tales of eccentrics that time may have forgotten. “There is something about these oddball characters that everyone can relate to,” she says. Tying these perspectives together is Elisa’s emotional eloquence which dynamically shifts from blunt realism to floral pensiveness.
Concrete is refreshingly diverse, spanning slinky funk-rock, “Lean Into The Curve”; quaintly graceful pop-rock, “Know Better”; and smoldering sophisticated adult contemporary pop-rock, “Concrete.” Elisa navigates this refreshing eclecticism with aplomb, shifting her richly expressive voice from swaggering sass, to subtle flirty sensuality, to slow-burn emotionality.
An album highlight showcasing her astounding lyric writing is the gripping “Love to Love,” a song based on the life of Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927). Victoria was a pioneering feminist, the first woman to run for president, the first woman to publish a newspaper, and the first woman to own a Wall Street bank. In her own words she was “too many years ahead of this age.” “Love to Love” is like a fireworks display of Elisa’s dazzling literacy, a style best explained by the description “grit with grace.” Here she sings such harrowing lines as: Born in a wooden shack in Homer, telling fortunes for my keep/My father starved and hit me; doctor wed me at 15/Two kids and one drunk husband, who squandered all our dough/I was an actress, whore, and psychic for a Travelling Medicine Show.
Elisa’s creativity is wonderfully fluid. Live she riffs storyteller/comedian style on her quirky historical character studies, enriching her music performances with compelling backstories and charming wit. Recently, she developed the story on Concrete’s “100 Miles To Nowhere” into a humorous and touching memoir about her move from New York City to New York Mills titled Hundred Miles To Nowhere: An Unlikely Love Story.
Listening to Concrete it’s striking how Elisa can step outside herself and inside of others to pen songs that resonate so broadly. But that’s the crux of her work: sharing feelings with boldness and authenticity.