ROAD I CALL HOME - ELLES BAILEY
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - MARCH 2019
Artist: Elles Bailey
Release Date: 8th March, 2019
Genre: Blues, Americana, Country Rock, Country Blues, Country Soul
Record Label: Outlaw Music
Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)
If we could put our money on one artist breaking into the UK mainstream this year and having great success, it would be the very talented Bristol based singer-songwriter Elles Bailey. The reason? Elles is one of the hardest working musicians on the circuit, coupled with her great songwriting ability, musicianship and a perfect voice for the blues. After one of the best and highly praised album releases back in September 2017 of her debut ‘Wildfire’, Elles returns with her second album inspired by her touring life on the road entitled ‘Road I Call Home’.
Recorded at Sound Emporium, Blackbird Studios & Warner Studios in Nashville with two tracks recorded at the Mono Valley Studios in Wales, this is another ‘tour de force’. The album was produced by Brad Nowell and Steve Blackmon and the recording features a group of top class musicians and co-writers.
"Wildfire was written over five years," says Elles, "Road I Call Home was written over one. It tells the story of touring ‘Wildfire’, and how much my life has changed since. I feel it delves deeper, and deals with loss, love, anger, determination and life on the road, with more than 200 gigs under my belt and many miles travelled." Live performance is Elles' natural habitat and home from home, touring the last album well beyond her native UK into Europe and America, playing dates with Jo Harman, Eric Gales and headlining her own tours. She's also risen up festival listings at events like Black Deer, Swing Westplaar and The Great British R&B Festival. Like its chart-topping predecessor, Elles' new album features co-writing contributions from high-calibre collaborators, including British hit-making legend and Ivor Novello Award winner Roger Cook, storied Memphis and Nashville giant Bobby Wood, as well as Dan Auerbach (of Akron, Ohio powerhouses The Black Keys) on the infectious Little Piece of Heaven.
The album begins with a track about hard work, determination, keeping on keeping on regardless of what the world decides to throw at you! ‘Hell or High Water’ is a super uptempo rockin’ blues track full of wonderful electric guitar licks and slide, with Elles vocals soaring above them. The song was a co-write with Aushton Tucker. A world populated by cutthroats, cheaters, gunslingers, deceivers is explored in ‘Wild Wild West’. “A land of milk and honey, but you’re not leaving with your soul”. The track was co-written with Billy Smiley and Catlin Rushing
The pace drops for the beautiful and super smooth ‘Deeper’ co-written with Dan Demay and Daryl Burgess. I love the super production, brass arrangement and the organ interplay. It has shades of classic Van Morrison. Another super song on the album is the very classy relationship driven ‘What’s The Matter With You’ a co-write with the great Bobby Wood & Roger Cook.
The album’s first single is the very powerful and mega catchy ‘Medicine Man’. Mirrors, smoke, trickery, mystery, the dark side and of course the medicine man. Although the medicine men and snake oil salesman of the old wild west are long gone, their modern day counterparts are still very much with us today.
One guaranteed to get you up on your feet is the very catchy title track ‘Road I Call Home’ another co-write with Ashton Tucker. Driving beats, electric guitar riffs and powerful vocals. Marvellous. Ashton also co-writes the super smooth and reflective love song ‘Foolish Hearts’. Cutthroats, Cheaters, Gunslingers, Deceivers! The big hits keep on coming. Mouth organ opens the Bobby Wood’s co-written driving rock blues track ‘Help Somebody’. ‘Little Piece Of Heaven’ another one of my favourites on the album is a co-write with Bobby Wood & Dan Auerbach. It’s interesting after listening to Yola’s debut album which was recently produced by Dan, this track has a similar classic retro feel.
Elles next co-writer Jeff Cohen has written and co-written for the some great musicians over the years. He scores another success with ‘Miss Me When When I’m Gone’. The album returns thematically full circle to the beautiful and spiritual piano led ‘Light In The Distance’. Heartfelt, honest and inspirational.
It isn’t often you listen to an album where all the songs could and should be big hits, but Elles second album ‘Road I Call Home’ is definitely one of them. One of UK albums of the year and a future multi-award winner.
If Elles and her band tour anywhere near you, I highly recommend that you book yourself some tickets and go along. You won’t be disappointed.
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