Walking With the Beggar Boys is supposed to be the album on which indie-pop group Elf Power abandons the hippie-mystical trappings of its early work. But listen to some lyrics from the title track, delivered call-and-response-style, between Elf Power vocalist Andrew Rieger and guest Vic Chesnutt: "I was you/You were me/He was she/She was he/They were us/We were they/It was real/We were free/I was God/God is cool/God is you/God is me/I was one/We were two/They were three/Three is three."
Pretty straightforward, huh? But the amazing thing is that this album is the work of a more down-to-earth Elf Power. Gone are the Narnia-inspired concepts of When the Red King Comes and the brilliant, shimmering psychedelica of A Dream in Sound. Elf Power has managed to hold onto enough of its outsider personality to make a relatively unadorned album without becoming another cardboard rock cutout. This gentle album imagines an alternate universe in which the Byrds, not MC5, are the rock template du jour. It's nice to see a band that can make a small step toward the mainstream while still following its own muse.