‘Of All The Times’
Branch Out Records
Release date – 15/11/2010
The doleful nostalgic country-folk twangs of Ellen Smith and her Escapades backing band, may be imbued with well-executed, erudite and efficacious sounds but they’re certainly nowhere near reaching the upper echelons alluded to in the esteemed outpourings of critical praise, put upon them by the press.
Worthy winners of Glastonbury’s emerging talent contest last year; the band were propelled to the dizzying heights of being labelled as superior to Joni Mitchell by Michael Eavis – well that’s how the irritatingly arriviste Lauren Laverne recounted it in her own review, tucked away at the back of Grazia; that well-known cultural bible!
Let’s just say, they’re quite far away from such lofty comparisons at the moment, and lets put Eavis’ comments down to exuberance.
Their debut EP, ‘Of All The Times’, chimes with the country-rock and folksy fare of the 70s Americana landscape, evoking the wistful and resigned music of The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac.
Ellen herself coos and rasps over the four-tracks, channelling the spirit of some worldly Nashville matriarch with a wry knowing wink to Kirsty McColl.
The songs sway from the gospel organ tinged Smokey and the Bandit balladry of ‘Preying On Your Mind’, to the bewailing sorrowful soundtrack of ‘Coming Back Home’.
Regretful plenitudes and emotive harmonica play out a gambling analogy tale on ‘This Ace Is Burned’, whilst ‘Yours To Keep’ is full of abandon and aching forlorn guitar.
Reassuringly comforting, this hazy mature and pastoral soundtrack from a bygone age, shoulders its way through the multitude of similar sounding acts. Only the distinctive and richly layered vocals of Ellen alone, will keep this act from disappearing on an ephemeral wisp of good-intentions and wave of acclaim.