Led by a modern-day Linda Ronstadt, Granville Automatic writes songs the Associated Press calls “haunting tales of sorrow and perseverance.” With influences as diverse as Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams, The Smiths and Dawes, Granville Automatic has created a quiet and lyrical sound that revolves around their passion for storytelling. The duo, comprised of BMG Nashville songwriters Vanessa Olivarez and Elizabeth Elkins, is named after a 19th-century typewriter.
The girls’ devotion to the project has proved a chaotic road of back-breaking touring, interpersonal tension, former-day-job balancing, other-band leaving, and a love-hate dynamic that brought them from Atlanta to Nashville. Theirs is a creative partnership reminiscent of Lennon-McCartney, a dreamer-doer, accessible-obtuse, country-rock collision of two polar opposites. What the two share, however, is a love for nostalgia: old records and antiques, tarot cards and dusty books, ghosts on battlefields and lost stories from the past. That common ground has produced three albums widely praised from The New York Times to an Editor’s Pick in No Depression.
Currently, Granville Automatic is hard at work on their forthcoming studio album, RADIO HYMNS. The project, similar in approach to the lauded 2015 record AN ARMY WITHOUT MUSIC: Civil War Stories from Hallowed Ground, will focus on the city of Nashville and the historic buildings and spaces that are being threatened by the area’s unprecedented growth. By focusing on the little-known stories that make those vanishing landmarks sacred to Nashville, the girls hope to unearth a new perspective on an area that was forging a unique identity long before it became known as Music City. Conversations are currently underway with prominent Nashville songwriters and producers who have expressed interest in leaving their thumbprints on what will be a heartfelt love letter to the history of the city they call home. In a town where the songwriting bar is set high by their heroes John Prine, Jason Isbell and Jim Lauderdale, Granville Automatic believes they can leave a unique mark on Americana music.
Olivarez and Elkins have written songs recorded by country stars Billy Currington (the single “Drinkin’ Town With A Football Problem”), Sugarland, Wanda Jackson, Angaleena Presley and numerous others. Their songwriting led them to a coveted Composers in Residence spot at Seaside, Fla.’s Escape to Create program. They’ve appeared on PBS’ Sun Studio Sessions and WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. You may have heard their songs on ABC’s American Crime and The Lying Game, as well as Netflix’s The Ranch. Their tour schedule has been as frenzied as 200 shows a year, including stops at SXSW, the Key West, Island Hopper and 30A Songwriters festivals and Tin Pan South. They’ve played at venues from the legendary Joshua Tree roadhouse Pappy & Harriet’s to Texas’ haunted Gruene Hall to listening rooms such as The Tin Angel (Philadelphia), Club Passim (Boston), Eddie’s Attic (Atlanta), The Station Inn and Music City Roots (Nashville) and Rockwood Music Hall (NYC).