ALBUM REVIEW: Darren Ellis (Self-Titled)

Taking influences from Paolo Nutini and Damien Rice, Darren Ellis strips back the songs on his self titled debut album making the focus good riffs, clear vocals and relatable lyrics. With catchy potential singles such as Make Your Own Luck, Twenty Something, and Let Your Hair Down, it’s no surprise that Alan Raw, of BBC Introducing West Yorkshire, snatched up his tracks to be played live on their radio station after listening to them, before booking him for the radio show. He played two tracks live, and another from the album.  Ever humble, Ellis publicly thanked him, demonstrating that he has manners of gold as well as talent.

Based in West Yorkshire, the musician performs to his audiences content all over the place, with upcoming gigs located in Batley, Bingley and even Halifax’s very own Fake Festival.

Vocalist, guitarist, producer, song writer, it really seems like indie folk musician Darren Ellis can do it all. With dedication and a humble personality paired with all the latter attributes, he’s one to watch.

Ahead of its release, here’s my review of his self titled album:

aalbumcoverOne of the tracks played on the radio, and my personal favourite Let Your Hair Down, has a catchy riff that acts a motif throughout the track and consequently throughout the day of anyone who listens to the song. Believe me, I can’t get it out of my head. But that’s bonus, it’s a feel good song about an individual who forgets all their cares and lives in the moment, and for the four minutes it plays, the listener gets a chance to escape into a world where they can do the same. I especially like the part in the track where most of the instruments fade out, faintly leaving the guitar motif and the light ping of the ride cymbal, so that the verse lyrics really stand out. Afterwards, both instruments continue to get louder raising to a crescendo before a drum beat announces the penultimate chorus.

Close second, Limelight will undoubtedly make any listener bop their head along with the tune. The bass line is genius, the lyrics catchy, and the whole track has a jazzy feel to it. It carries an important message about doing something for yourself rather than the attention it will gain you, and makes listeners think about their own experiences and what the case is for them. Positioned seventh on the album listing, I feel it is underrated by the artist, and that’s what makes it an original hidden gem.

Make Your Own Luck, is another feel good track with a summery vibe to it. The lyrics are relaxed, with the occasional rocky twist thanks to on/off rough vocals that really stress the opening line and chorus.  Like the latter, it features catchy riffs, however the rhythm differs from verse to verse, making the track more complex to tap your foot to. It’s a track that should be taken as it comes and just enjoyed without thinking too much into. Perfect for listening to in the car with the roof down on the way to the beach or a campout.

Twenty Something will be a hit, as Darren Ellis’ song writing picks up on the relatable scenario of getting older and having to worry about having to “get a house, get a job, get a car, [and] get a wife”, and in doing so sacrificing opportunities and having dreams stunted. The lyrics suggest that the latter may not be the end game and that there’s always time to change your life. It’s something listeners, especially of that age range, want to hear, and that’s why I believe it will be extremely successful as a single in its own right as well as on the album.

Fully Grown then slows down the tempo of the album, demonstrating Ellis’ versatility as a musician, and changes the tone to one of reflection rather than careless fun. It is heartfelt and personal, and I’m sure many listeners will be able to relate to it. It’s one of those songs that people should listen to on the way home from a fun outing just to make the come down more reflective than sad, and maybe send the passengers into a gentle sleep, remembering their day but dreaming of the future.

Folk song Jack is disjointed and seems to me that it features too many clashing instruments. However, the song reminds me of confessional poetry so I imagine that’s what the artist was going for. Jack’s life being homeless is described as disjointed in the lyrics so it would not have made sense to tackle the tracks subject matter any other way. The song is not necessarily my cup of tea, but I applaud Daniel Ellis for the cleverness in what he was attempting and hope that other people appreciate it.

War Song too has a unique sound with its arrangement of clashing instruments and warped guitar riffs. Again, it’s clever, as the song is anti-war, and the clashing seems to represent the conflict of interests that causes war in the first place, hence in a way mocking it. It’s a song that tells listeners to look within themselves and test their morals about whether they see war and whether they view it as a positive or negative.

Potential fast paced free track Strobelight sees Darren Ellis collaborating with rapper Jay Parch. The contrast in their voices did the song justice, with the harmonies and rounds sounding on point. It’s different to the usual rap songs due to the unusual pairing of rapper and vocalist, and that gives it a leg up in the competition. The song in my opinion should definitely be used as a bonus track, as not only does it sound good, but it will also bring a new audience to the album.

The album is set to become available to the public via iTunes in June, with additional yet-to-be-finished track See You On The Other Side so keep your eyes peeled.

You can hear his tracks on his Soundcloud, but the full album is available to buy on iTunes and Google play for a small yet reasonable price. Like Darren Ellis Music on Facebook for his latest updates.

Rae Coppola


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