2022 becomes a lot brighter with the release of Elles Bailey’s “Shining in the Half Light”, as Six Shooter’s GEORGIE THOROGOOD discovers
Being a self-professed “pop-country” fan, I had always thought of Elles Bailey as very much an Americana/Blues artist (rightly or wrongly!) and I wasn’t sure what to expect from the new album “Shining in the Half Light.”
Starting off with Cheats And Liars, a song which premiered on Radio 2 when released in August 2021, was the Most Played Track on Planet Rock for five weeks and earned a five-star review from Music News. For those who are fans of the Nashville TV series, think Rayna James, big production stadium show, and this is the vibe I got from the very first bars of this track. This is one of the more commercial sounding songs on the album and kicks things off with a really strong, anthemic vibe, hooking you in from the word go.
The Game comes next and has been recently released as the fourth single from the album. Still with a commercial sound, parts of this track have a distinctly KT Tunstall tone, it’s a more upbeat and empowering song and showcases her vocals well. Penned with regular individual co-writers Ashton Tucker & Will Edmunds, this is the first song they have all written together and what a result!
The third track on the album, Stones, sounds more like what I had expected from Elles. A little darker than the first two songs, it feels like she is really getting into her stride with a darker, more bluesy vibe that is synonymous with her live set.
Track number four, Colours Start To Run, again has a bluesy feel, nostalgic and cosy. The lyrics to this song feel powerful, especially in the midst of such political turmoil across the world. She asks the question “Was it easier in black and white?” and for many people at the moment, the answer I suspect would be yes! This feels very appropriate when bearing in mind that this album was recorded whilst in isolation in Devon with her band.
Different Kind Of Love comes next and the opening bars sound quite retro, almost like a throwback to Roxy Music’s cover of “Jealous Guy”. It’s a sleepy and soporific love song with a beautiful appearance from a gospel choir to support Elles’ vocals in the second part of the track.
We return to a darker backstreet blues sound for track six, Who’s That, and her signature powerhouse voice returns to the fore. More gentle backing vocals accompany this one and there is a great electric guitar solo.
Sunshine City is my favourite track on the album, with a really upbeat, road-trippin’ rock and roll vibe. Elles’ lead vocals are on top form here and it would be impossible to listen to this without wanting to crank up the volume, wind the windows down and feel footloose and fancy free! With an extended guitar solo mid-way through, she is really pulling all parts of her iconic sound together here and showcasing their versatility and talent. It’s a fun song and released as a single in October last year, hit a full eight weeks as “Most Played Track” on Planet Rock radio.
We’re taken to a less energetic place with Halfway House, they’ve turned everything down a bit with this track and it feels like it is nursing vulnerabilities, taking one step at a time along a road of regret, doubt and anger. It’s an emotional song and the almost choral backing vocals are comforting. It’s well placed in the song list, just calming things down after the hype of Sunshine City. Followed by Riding Out The Storm, we’ve moved to acceptance that nothing goes to plan and again, these two tracks feel very apt after the chaos of the pandemic. This is a softer song again but has great potential for audience participation in a live set.
The title track Shining In The Half Light comes at the very end and it is the perfect song to round off a great album. It’s really atmospheric and has what I think of as her signature bluesy style. With a great use of dynamics, this holds the listener almost in suspense as it lifts up and down, leaving you contented with the album’s offering, yet simultaneously yearning for more.
A little different to what I would usually listen to, this album is a gateway into a more bluesy sound and the more I heard it, the more it worked into my head and impressed me with its versatility and range of sounds. Elles Bailey and her band are exceptionally talented and, having been lucky enough to see them perform live previously, it is evident that this album reflects their musicianship and abilities with a level of production that complements rather than overpowers, whilst still producing commercially appropriate tracks.
Shining In The Half Light is released on 25th February 2022. Pre-orders on CD, vinyl and cassette tape, with a variety of bundle options, are available now at https://ellesbaileypreorder.com/.
Elles Bailey – Shining In The Half Light – Track List
- Cheats And Liars (Elles Bailey, Ashton Tucker)
- The Game (Elles Bailey, Ashton Tucker, Will Edmunds)
- Stones (Elles Bailey, Tamara Stewart, Will Edmunds)
- Colours Start To Run (Elles Bailey, Alex Maile)
- Different Kind Of Love (Elles Bailey, Martin Harley)
- Who’s That (Elles Bailey, Brett Boyett)
- Sunshine City (Elles Bailey, Matt Owens)
- Halfway House (Elles Bailey, Ashton Tucker, Will Edmunds)
- Riding Out The Storm (Elles Bailey, Joe Wilkins)
- Shining In The Half Light (Elles Bailey, Craig Lackey)