"Honestly, if I could have picked my voice, it wouldn't have been this one," says former Sarge frontwoman Eliza-beth Elmore. "I don't think it's very good at conveying what I'm trying to convey." Singer/guitarist Elmore is explaining the deceptively girlish singing voice that lights her songs from within, but belies their dark lyrical slant. "I sound like a 12-year-old virgin choir girl. Except now I've been smoking for so long that I sound like an out-of-tune 12-year-old virgin choir girl."
In Sarge, Elmore's voice played against sped-up pop, delivering hard truths. The band recalled the Fastbacks' buoyant punk and the Plimsouls' power-pop. Elmore irradiated the songs with her relentless, odd intelligence. She sounded sweet as an angel but seethed with rolling disappointment and thwarted desire. The unspoken thoughts and dread were coming to the surface, and it was bracing and cathartic to hear.
Three months after Elmore started law school, the band imploded. Elmore still sounds raw when she describes Sarge's breakup. "It was not my choice," she says. "It was a very sad thing for everyone involved. It was like a fucking Fleetwood Mac-type story. The effect of not just losing the band, but of having relationships change and alter very quickly, was very rough."
Last March, after playing solo shows with an SG and a Marshall half-stack, Elmore enlisted other musicians and set out on an East Coast tour. She recently released a split single on Troubleman with Bob Nanna from Braid/Hey Mercedes, and her band begins recording in November.
Six months after Sarge's dissolution, Elmore started writing songs again. "I used to walk around clenched for a week after I wrote a song, wondering if I'd ever write another one," she says. "I couldn't write a song to save my life. It's not a craft for me. To me it feels like sheer luck." It's definitely more than luck. Her songs find that moment when people fully awaken to their feelings and can't turn back.