Singer Activist Elspeth Summers Joins Friends for Debut Album

Reno-based singer/songwriter and social activist Elspeth Summers has released her first full-length album, “Round & Round,” self-recorded in a home studio. Summers collaborated remotely with musical friends from around the USA and Canada to produce this heartfelt collection of songs.

“Usually my process begins with finding a riff or pattern of chords on the guitar/banjo, and then writing the vocal melody as I go,” says Summers. “The instrumental and vocal aspects of the song evolve together. After I had the foundation of a song, I would ask other musicians to write and send me parts.”

The resulting work is an acoustically strum-driven LP layered with emotive vocal harmonies, cello, violin and banjo.

The resulting work is an acoustically strum-driven LP layered with emotive vocal harmonies, cello, violin and banjo. Summers’ writing is introspective and self possessed; her delivery droning and halted, pulsing oddly over the unassuming chord changes. On songs such as “Battle Born” and “Castle on the Hill,” she sounds as if in a dream, wandering through halls of mirrors that reflect her soul.

Watch the video for the single “Water is Life”

While the simplicity of her guitar playing creates an initially beautiful resonance, some of the tunes on “Round & Round” seem to circle endlessly about the original musical idea, eventually begetting an all-too-poignant, perhaps even melodramatic, tone to Summer’s heart-wrenched crooning. Perhaps this is just what she is yearning for.

“I want my music to crack the listener open,” says Summers. “I want to shatter people. I want to open people’s heart and soul and allow love and acceptance to come in.”

Can one open others through such intensely personal introspection?

Her other compositions, such as “Gaia” and “Relentlessly,” which bookend the album, feature atmospheric tones brushed beneath spoken word poetry. Short, sweet and effecting, they reflect her passion for environmental protection, universal human love and a newfound decision to focus her writing outward instead of inward.

“Within the last six months I have really shifted my focus as a musician,” says Summers. “Rather than just playing music that is an expression of my experience and my stories, I produce music that has more of a globalist, activist theme that will be a part of this revolution we are witnessing blossoming right now. I want my music to be a voice for all living beings on this planet.”

For a recently released single and music video entitled, “Water is Life,” Summers donated all proceeds to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

“We are at a crucial time of human history where we need to protect our planet and all sentient beings,” says Summers. “It is my goal to inspire others with my songs. I want to give people hope and confidence and joy. I know it’s why I’m here on this planet. It’s my form of expression, my form of showing up and bringing awareness for love.” | elspethsummers.com

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Sean McAlindin

Sean McAlindin is a writer, musician and educator based in Truckee. When he’s not drafting new story ideas, he can be found jamming with his Celtic bluegrass band, Lost Whiskey Engine, hiking for a local back-country powder stash or hanging out with his daughter, Penelope.