Elles Bailey – Whelans (Upstairs), Dublin – 07-03-2019

Review: Stephen Brophy

Photography: Stephen Brophy

Over the last couple of years Elles Bailey has become a force to be reckoned with on the Blues/Roots circuit and following on from some very hard work promoting and Touring her debut album ‘Wildfire‘, she is making a trip to my home town, Dublin,  in order to promote the follow up, the superb ‘Road I Call Home‘ and play her first headlining Irish date.

Opening the show this evening is Northern Irish Blues singer/songwriter Dom Martin, who plays a really good and gritty set. Prior to Dom hitting the stage though we get another insight into Elles Bailey, it is not very often in this day and age you will see a Headline act introduce their support for the night to the crowd, a very classy thing to do and generates a really cool atmosphere to kick things off. The songs are really good and the guitar playing even better, just creating a very nice sound, although the crowd at this stage of the evening was small they were certainly enjoying Dom’s set and that was very understandable. With songs from last years ‘Easy Way Out‘ EP, and probably the highlight being ‘The Rain Game‘, he certainly picked up some new followers tonight. Tracks like ‘Mercy‘ sounded great in an all too short set, always a great sign when a set flies by and you want to hear more.

Then it was onto the main event of the evening, for me I’d first seen Elles supporting Jo Harman in the Jazz Club in London, and I was hooked, not just from the music and delivery, but there’s an extremely engaging persona on stage, and the between song banter makes you feel a lot more involved in the show than perhaps with other artists. The band are extremely good, and the sound is great for a small room. The majority of the new songs were written in Nashville, some with renowned songwriters likes Bobby Wood and Dan Auerbach, and the fruits of this process are once again evident when you hear these songs live, just take the new single ‘Little Piece Of Heaven‘, it’s a cracker of a song, and is uplifting live. Plenty of highlights in tonights set ‘Deeper‘, ‘What’s The Matter With You‘ and ‘Medicine Man‘ from the new album and the title track of the debut ‘Wildfire‘ wonderful stuff. The musicians in this band all play a significant part in the show, and gel so well, but special mention has to go to Will Edmunds on guitar, who although spending the entire set in almost total darkness played beautifully, had there been one more light directed in the right direction it would have made a big difference, but he still made his presence felt.

When reviewing Elles new album I had picked out the closing track ‘Light In The Distance‘ as being one of the highlights of the release, but at the time did not know the back story from it, and as Elles told the crowd it elevated the song even more, this particular track, one that was written closer to home has a very personal feel to it but when you hear Elles singing it you automatically associate with the sentiments, it’s a piece of beauty especially with the keyboards and vocal powering through.

As Elles star continues to shine brighter this . This was for me always going to be ones of those “wow, I was there nights” I don’t think we are likely to see this artist again in venues like this for long, and as good as it is to be so close up and personal, you know that her music deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Can’t wait to to see Elles again and the pieces of magic from the album are even more magical live, go see these shows if you can.

Setlist –

Wild Wild West

Miss Me When I’m Gone

Deeper

What’s The Matter With You

Little Piece Of Heaven

Wildfire

When I Go Away

Perfect Storm

Light In The Distance

Hell Or Highwater

Medicine Man

Woman Like Me

Help Somebody

Road I Call Home

Howlin Wolf

Encore

Girl Who Owned The Blues

Review: Elles Bailey – Road I Call Home

Release Date: (March 7th 2019)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Elles Bailey has been a growing force in recent times and with the release of her second album ‘Road I Call Home‘ that’s definitely going to continue. Following on from the critically acclaimed and very successful debut album ‘Wildfire‘ which was released towards the end of 2017, Elles is set to capitalise on the momentum that a really good debut and some very hard work touring has built up.

The music on this release continues in the same vein as what we have heard previously, but there’s an assured confidence flowing through this release that just pushes the songs to new levels, although this may be a very personal group of songs there are themes that resonate with us all and it’s the execution that makes everything shine so well. Style wise we’ve got an amalgamation of Blues, Americana and Country dripping all over this one

This is most definitely an album you need to let seep into your pores, soak in it, breathe it in, tracks like ‘Deeper‘ just beg to be put on repeat and allow you to pick up on different nuances with each listen. As with it’s predecessor this was recorded in Nashville, and has been sympathetically produced by Brad Nowell and Steve Blackmon, which suits the style and delivery of the songs.

Of the eleven tracks on offer here you find it hard to look past any one track, there are so many reasons to keep listening and to come back for more. What raises this album above the rest is probably the fact that it so smoothly rolls from one style to another and yet neither loses focus nor the beautiful ebb and flow from song to song. ‘Help Somebody‘ stuck in my head from the first listen, a bluesy beast lifted by a Brass section that’s in no way overpowering, there are pieces of magic everywhere you turn, and the playing is exemplary whether from the special guests in Nashville or the UK musicians.

There’s an almost visible pain in ‘What’s The Matter With You‘, while ‘Little Piece Of Heaven‘ is another that wraps around your heart and pulls on the strings hard and is probably the most poppy track on offer while remaining very soulful at the same time, the writing credits are great to see but really mean very little without the excellent delivery of the stories. Then we come to the closing track ‘Light In The Distance‘ and just wow, a stunning performance in it’s simplicity, a vocal with piano accompaniment, but the vocal is so beautiful, like a winding river it meanders through a story, it’s a testament as to how far this young artist has come in a relatively short space of time.

This is a wonderful album, it’s full of depth, warmth and just really well put together songs that demand your attention. Keep your eyes and ears open for Elles Bailey, it’s a name that I’m sure you will hear a lot more of in the future. The Uk/Irl Tour starts at the beginning of March, don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear these songs live, it will be a great experience. The World better be ready for Elles because she is definitely coming for it.