When Elliot Niven was 15, he crashed his parents’ car through a fence and into a neighbour’s tree.
These days, he’s more likely to drive his acoustic folk-rock through your speakers and into your soul. As part of Edmonton duo El Niven & The Alibi, the singer/guitarist delivers rugged and restless tunes about liquor, love and lone wolves — fuelled by intoxicating blasts of twang, melody and honesty.
Drummer Jeff Burwash is the other half of El Niven & The Alibi. The two started writing tunes and playing stripped-down yet raucous sets after putting the brakes on their previous project, Stone Iris, a reggae-turned-rock outfit, in 2016.
“The music I’m making now is much different," says Niven. "You get older, you start looking at things and where you want to be, and an honesty comes out.”
A sense of danger also underlines many of El Niven & The Alibi’s songs, including Next To Me, a sweet and jaunty ballad about his wife and the exhilarating dizziness of love, and Likker, which documents his much rockier affair with alcohol.
The truth? Music saved Niven’s life. While he took guitar lessons as a child, he didn’t fully experience the power of music until his early 20s. Fresh out of rehab, he started jamming with his younger brother and entering battle-of-the-bands contests in his hometown of Calgary. He eventually moved to Edmonton and started Stone Iris in 2009.
From the start, Niven has displayed a preternatural knack for melody and infectious choruses, but the full extent of his songwriting skills are only now on display with El Niven & The Alibi. The duo has recorded several songs, including Next To Me and Likker, with Brian Moncarz (Our Lady Peace, The Trews, Yukon Blonde) and plan to return to the studio in the months to come.