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Review: Welcome to Wonderland by Elie Rees

Lifestyle / Wed 20th Dec 2017 at 08:37pm

Review: Welcome to Wonderland is the new EP by Harlow born singer/songwriter Elie Rees.

By Adam Spartley

Rees is described as ‘a singer/songwriter who has created her own acoustic niche with edgy and emotive songs. A punk-rock side to Elie’s writing combines with catchy melodies and bold lyrics to create a singer songwriter with attitude.’

The musical arrangements of her songs are refreshingly broad, with the album quickly switching between the feel of 60’s folk to gypsy punk to indie pop and back again with the support of a skilled band.

The album is well produced and my only criticism of the production itself is the prominence of the drums in certain tracks. Listening to the track ‘Old Friend’, i feel this song could have come across a lot better with some minor tweaking.

This type of song benefits from having the guitar sharing the main stage with the vocals while everything else stands a few steps behind them, subtley adding richness and depth to the musical flavour.

It sounds at times similar to the beautiful Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez, but the sharpness of the drums played throughout is distracting and stops you from being able to slip into that space behind your eyes.

Welcome to Wonderland also makes you realise how underused the upright bass has been in recent times, with every sliding note (see Old Friend) giving a smokiness reminiscent of Danny Thompsons pivotal contribution to John Martyns classic ‘Solid Air’.

I think lyrically Rees has a way to go, she has a solid, honest voice and decent range, but some of these tracks are let down by predictable rhymes and unsubtle imagery.

I also feel she would benefit from taking more inspiration from the 60’s folk scene and less from the punks in regards to her lyrics. At times the boldness of her words doesn’t sit right with the tone of the music.

‘Thankyou’ sounds at times almost like a Libertines track, if the band had swapped their heroin for estrogen and overdosed once a month.

The anger that a few songs profess to have is compromised by the fact the tracks are unassertive and need a ballsier sound to carry them. For example, Untouchable has a clash of interest between the guitar and the drums. Simply put, the guitar riff should be dirtier and the drums should be more aggressive.

Rees strength is in her folk sensibilities, with the strongest tracks on this album being the softer ‘Home’, ‘Old Friend’ and ‘Free’.

‘Home’ at times sounds effortlessly like Vashti Bunyan, (see Train Song) with Ree’s vocals delivered well, and her emotional fragility easily relatable. These songs also fit the entire bands sound most comfortably, with the soft crisp strings and steady hush of the drums giving Rees a great platform to stand on to sing from her heart.

This is a good debut EP, and despite its flaws i still came away feeling i had a good impression of Elie Rees as a person.

Ellie

Many artists struggle to translate honesty through their music, whereas Rees seems quite adept at giving herself to the listener, and hopefully as she continues her musical career and performs live regularly, she will discover how to utilise the skills she has and become a much more accomplished artist.

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