Rising singer-songwriter and global citizen Eli Lev is making the world a smaller place, one song at a time. Eli pens lyrics and melodies for everyday enlightenment—songs that resonate because they’re heartfelt, earthy, and offer the wisdom he’s gained through lifelong travel and self-discovery.
Prior to becoming a full time musician, the Silver Spring, MD native spent three years as an 8th grade English teacher on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. The indigenous traditions he learned during this time are the inspiration for his Four Directions project. Just as each cardinal direction holds unique characteristics in the Navajo tradition, so do each of the albums in Eli’s ‘Four Directions Project.’ Together, the series imaginatively and intrepidly connects spheres and generations within a body of work that is irresistibly uplifting, emotionally resonant, and down-to-earth authentic.
Eli explains, “We are surrounded by four directions, and each has distinctive attributes, powers, and teachings according to Navajo traditions. For example, because the sun rises in the east, it is the first direction and source of new ideas and inspiration. With that in mind, I started my EP series in 2017 with All Roads East, echoing the sounds of my youth and upbringing (Alt-Country/Americana). I released Way Out West the following year, where I experimented with the frontiers of folk tropes and melodies (Indie Folk). For 2019’s Deep South, I went back to my southern roots with a truly modern and powerful sound (Folk Rock/Pop). The final piece in 2021 is the more introspective True North (Acoustic/Singer-Songwriter).”
The northern direction in Navajo belief is that of the black night, of reflection, of quietude, of completion, and the stage where we get the highest amount of understanding from events and actions. Eli said, “This project holds and projects all of my life experiences from growing up in Maryland, studying in Indiana, my time as a teacher in Arizona, living abroad in Israel and Andorra, and finally coming back home to Maryland and becoming a full-time independent musician.I felt it important to follow the order and the characteristics of the four directions belief system as it holds deep wisdom and kept me on track and guided me through the entire project.”
The final piece of the collection, True North, is composed of a series of songs that were written throughout Eli’s musical career. The EP was recorded during sessions with producer Taylor Rigg in a cabin in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Rigg’s ability to create sonic landscapes rooted in instrumentation were brought to life and elevated by the riverside setting nestled among the picturesque rolling mountains.
Opener “Shy Desert Morning” and “Happiness Waits” were both on his first demo EP. The former was created on a whim in the days after finishing grad school in Bloomington, IN and reflecting on his first time driving out to the high desert – years before the Four Directions project was actualized, while the latter tells the story of two people that aren’t connected, but could be if they chose to seek happiness. “As It Is” was the first song Eli wrote on the piano, and explores insights he gained on a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat to gain a deeper understanding of how everything is “as it is” while constantly changing. “I Wanna Tell You” is an honest statement about letting go and moving on that revealed itself almost at once after playing a series of three chords. Closer “There’s A Light” was recorded in just one take with Eli and the guitar, at once an affirmation and a longing for peace, harmony, tranquility, balance, and love.
Eli’s releases have earned critical praise from Paste Magazine, Buzzfeed, CBS Radio, AXS, and The Bluegrass Situation, and have received national folk radio support and placement on prominent Spotify playlists. In 2019, Eli Lev won multiple industry awards for his work: his second album Way Out West won a Washington Area Music Award (WAMMIE) for best Country/Americana album, while his single “Chasing Daylight” won a grand prize in the SAW Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Competition.
True North will be released on June 25, 2021.