Electronic Press Kit
Press Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
All photos by Brooke Porter.
Click on a photo to download a high resolution version. You can also go directly to the folder with high resolution (300 dpi) photos.
Searching for What's True
Cover designed by Adam Rothberg
Photo by Brooke Porter
Cover designed by Adam Rothberg
Photo by Brooke Porter
This is a private link for press. The official streaming release date for Searching For What's True is July 14, 2023.
High resolution and web resolution images are available in this folder. All photos are by Brooke Porter.
"Oh what gorgeous, soulful music! It knocked off my easy chair. Eli Conley has a beautiful way of expressing himself. His writing and singing are exquisite."
"Singer-songwriter Eli Conley’s tender storytelling voice and intimate fireside acoustic songwriting brings to mind the kind of bare bones honest music that proliferated in the early ‘70s when the term 'singer-songwriter' emerged. Originally from a small rural town in Virginia, Conley soaked up American roots music, as well as ‘40s and ‘50s Broadway hits. His music emanates with this beautiful juxtaposition, much in the same way that his small-town roots have come to enhance his current urban sensibilities."
Aaron Carnes, East Bay Express
"Eli Conley spoke with me a few months ago about his involvement in the queer country scene. It was also on the eve of his wedding. As a listener, it felt a like a good time to catch him — about to embark on an important chapter and reflecting on all of his accomplishments so far. On his latest album, Strong and Tender, Conley’s truly mastered his craft. The songs here examine our most important relationships: romantic ones, of course, and the ambiguity they can contain; our gender identities, and our relationships with ourselves and our mortality. On 'Strong and Tender,' Conley dives into the aftermath of a painful conflict and the ways those separations can reverberate many years later." Rachel Cholst, Wide Open Country
"Classically trained as a singer, Conley has a wide vocal range. He sings with a twang, filling out long notes with soul and belting out smooth melodies. Conley's father’s family was from Appalachia and... he grew up listening to folk, country, old-time and bluegrass."
Cindy Huang, Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Eli Conley's music connects the gap between city- and country-boy -- think early Elton John, especially Tumbleweed Connection -- by merging progressive and traditional themes with roots-based instrumentation."
Wendy Levy, The Commons
"Eli is the kind of guy who gives more than he receives, who listens more than he talks... and then, when you least expect it, creates beautiful music with meaning and care. Every time I hear Eli play live, I’m struck by not only his musicianship, but the power of his narrative... By the time Eli finishes his last song, those listening will never be the same. And they won’t just have learned, and opened, and maybe felt home for the first time. They’ll never go back to where they were."
Joshua Klipp, Original Plumbing
Praise for Strong and Tender (2017)
"Vocal teacher and prominent voice in LGBTQ country-folk [makes] sweet, deeply sincere folk music. If you’re unfamiliar, start with 'How Do We Know,' from this year’s Strong and Tender full-length. It’s flat-out beautiful." Alex Gordon, Pittsburgh City Paper
"The California-based Conley [refers] to classic folk-rockers like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, to whom his gentle-yet-powerful sound draws comparisons... In tunes like the haunting 'All That Ends,' he wonders how long he will live and how his end will come." David-Elijah Nahmod, Philadelphia Gay News
"Eli Conley's recent sophomore record, Strong and Tender, is an earnest effort that hones in on life’s tiny details, while still addressing the bigger issues like death, aging and love." Aaron Carnes, East Bay Express
Praise for At The Seams (2013)
"That voice! You'll recognize it everywhere. Eli Conley possesses the rare gift of a distinctive vocal timbre that separates him from scores of singer-songwriters in the modern folk ilk." Tom Semioli, Minor 7th
"I'm impressed by the quality and variety on At the Seams, from touching love songs to political ballads, beautifully written, sung and played. Eli displays diversity in his songwriting and in his being." Eric Jansen, KALW
"Akin [to] the classic era of the singer songwriter genre – think Jackson Browne, early Elton John, Stephen Stills, and the more recent work of Melissa Etheridge – Conley's cinematic lyrics and strong sense of melody along with Michael Connolly's spare, supportive arrangements serve artist and the listener well. Unforgettable songs of love, yearning, and spirituality abound." Tom Semioli, Minor 7th
"Every track is a winner... Conley's percussive guitar rhythms and vocal phrases divinely intertwine. This is the stuff that long, successful careers are made of." Tom Semioli, Minor 7th
Eli Conley is an indie folk singer-songwriter, teaching artist, and activist based in Sacramento, California. He makes music for queer and trans folks, justice seekers, and anyone who doesn’t fit easily in a box. Eli's voice is tender and heartfelt, with songs and that can leave you teary-eyed yet hopeful. As a queer transgender man from the South, his songs tell stories that aren’t always reflected in roots music.
Eli founded Queer Country West Coast, a regular series featuring LGBTQ+ blues, folk, and country artists in California. He has opened for Carsie Blanton, Heather Mae, and Grammy-winner Kimya Dawson, and been featured in the Huffington Post and the Advocate.
Eli's third album Searching for What's True will be released July 14th, 2023. Themes of uncertainty, ache, and loss come up again and again on this record. The songs are drawn from the concrete and immediate details of daily life: a stuffed animal clutched in a child's arms, a colorful sunset after a forest fire, a confederate statue toppling to the ground.
Searching for What's True is Eli's first release since being diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury that forced him to stop playing music for many months. After wrist surgery and careful rehab, he came back to songwriting with a renewed sense of purpose. On the album's first single "Making Something New" he describes the work of an artist as "finding beauty in the wreckage / making meaning of the grief / when we tell our stories true we find release." His deep belief in the transformative power of creativity stems not only from his own experiences, but his many years leading singing and songwriting classes for queer and transgender people and allies.
Eli co-produced this album with Maryam Qudus (Tune-Yards, Thao & The Getdown Staydown, Alanis Morisette) at Tiny Telephone Studios in the Bay Area. He was joined by longtime collaborators Conrad Sisk on cello and Joel Price on mandolin, violin, and background vocal arrangements. Their muscular string parts are complemented by delicate percussion from Jesse Loren Strickman. Briget Boyle lends her voice to the lush vocal harmonies, and James Touzel holds down the low end on upright bass.
The resulting album is a testament to the power of the creative spirit. At times it's hushed and intimate, at others soaring and dramatic. At the heart of Searching for What's True is Eli's singular voice, urging us to stay open to our grief and our joy.
Some of the notable venues where Eli Conley has played include:
Cafe du Nord, San Francisco, CA
The Lost Church, San Francisco, CA
El Rio, San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Trans Pride March
La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, CA
The Back Room, Berkeley, CA
Subterranean Arthouse, Berkeley, CA
The Starry Plough, Berkeley, CA
High Street Station Cafe, Alameda, CA
Art Boutiki, San Jose, CA
The New Deal Cafe, Greenbelt, MD
Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Oberlin College, Oberiln, OH
Costello's, Wilmington, NC
Ashland Coffee and Tea, Ashland, VA
The Camel, Richmond, VA
Floyd Country Store, Floyd, VA
The Gay Community Center, Richmond, VA
The Spot on Kirk, Roanoke, VA
The Darjeeling Cafe, Staunton, VA
Mt. Tabor Theater, Portland, OR
The Granary, Eugene, OR
Empty Sea Studios, Seattle, WA
Skylark, Seattle, WA
Metronome Coffee, Tacoma, WA
Interview: Eli Conley on Becoming a Trans Elder
Rainbow Rodeo, May 2023
Out Singer-Songwriter Eli Conley Relishes Roots Music, Trans Themes
Washington Blade, April 2019
Oberlin Alumnus Shares Trans Experience Through Country Music
Prizm, April 2019
Wide Open Country, September 2018
Queer Country West Coast
Bay Area Reporter, May 2018
Bay Area Beats: Eli Conley
Crosscurrents, KALW December 2017
Eli Conley at the Back Room
East Bay Express, June 2017
Pittsburgh City Paper, May 2017
Eli Conley, Sharing His Life Through Song
Philadelphia Gay News, April 2017
In a Queer Country
Bay Area Reporter, February 2016
Folk Songs for Misfits
The Commons, April 2015
Interview: Music Opens Space to Connect Queer, Trans Community
Huffington Post, March 2015
Folk Singer Returns Home to Perform for First Time in Ashland
Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 2014
Review: At The Seams
Minor 7th, December 2013
Interview: Local Spin
Spinning Platters, September 2013
Interview: Eli Conley Sings "Folk With a Queer Bite"
Out in the Bay, KALW, September 2013