Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Jay Elle, an independent singer songwriter out of the New York City music scene. His latest studio endeavor, ‘Rising Tide,’ is a five song jaunt through introspection, soft ballads, and a surprising amount of music that borders on electric rock. Is Elle’s effort worth having in your indie music collection? Let’s delve into it and find out.
Rising Tide, the opening and titular track of the album, is a lovely composition. The bright, shimmering acoustic guitar performance is wonderfully recorded, and it’s accented nicely by a tight percussion section and Elle’s lyricism is endearing. His vocal style is unconventional, but has a unique charm to it. I do think, though that Elle’s vocals need to be remixed or re-recorded. They’re muffled and lo-fi, as if the studio band was recorded professionally and Elle’s vocals were recorded with a Blue Snowball.
‘Twelve on Sunday’ is the lyrical peak of the album, as Elle pens a poignant tune from the perspective of a father to his young daughter. The song is particularly well written musically as well, and the riff that Elle built the verses and chorus around is absolutely fascinating. It’s a beautiful song. At times, Elle’s voice falls out of tune or flat, but again, I think that’s part of the aesthetic of his performance. It’s not supposed to be overly polished.
When you hit ‘You Got Away’ on ‘Rising Tide,’ you may find yourself checking to make sure you’re still listening to Elle’s music. ‘You Got Away’ is a 1980s-esque rock ballad, one that’s far better mixed and mastered than its two predecessors. Elle’s vocal recordings are much higher quality here. I adore the female backing vocals, too; they’re a great touch. The random switch in genre and recording quality is abrupt, though.
‘All Through The Night’ is another well-recorded track, furthering Elle’s excursion into more rock-oriented stylings by adding more reverb and distorted guitars. It’s a snappy tune, again, one that’s reminiscent of anthemic 80s rock. Of the two styles exhibited on the album, Elle sounds far more organic and comfortable in this one. ‘Way Down The Road’ is similar, a track where Elle’s delivery sounds like that of David Byrne during the Talking Heads era.
The first two tracks of ‘Rising Tide’ are fairly solid acoustic singer songwriter songs with some recording issues. The last three tracks handle themselves much better in the technical department, and navigate away from early 1970s acoustic introspection to something that sounds like it’s off the cutting room floor of a Poison record. That’s not a bad thing, either. This’ll resonate on cylinders of both those camps, making this album worth taking a look at if those are styles that appeal to you. The latter style, the 80s rock, is in shorter supply in the indie scene than the acoustic singer songwriter content is, too, so it's not bad niche to occupy.