"Ellery’s latest offering, 'You Did Everything Right' (November 2008), is something of a provisional work, a demo-cum-EP that was not originally conceived as a stand-alone product. In that sense it is less a coherent project than a collection of songs.
(Their most ambitious project to date - a new album helmed by Grammy-winning producer Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) - is due for an early 2010 release.)
"The new songs conjure an eclectic and skillful admixture of melodic pop-folk piano. There’s a little Sarah McLachlan here and Over The Rhine too; the sound is familiar but it’s undeniable there is some freshness to these songs. This is probably Ellery’s most mature work to date, which might go without saying but not all of us are graced by Time in the same dignified way. There is a grown-up sensuality here, more caress than climax, more subtlety than outright seduction. These songs come to us unfolding slowly, languid and bittersweet, like old friends. We’ve moved beyond the fresh earnestness of 'Song for Lovers' or the precocious wide-eyed wonder of 'Long Coat On,' which is not to diminish where those earlier offerings found us — or left us.
"But there is something almost approaching angst here, something more self-aware and less innocent. What we haven’t left, and never want to leave, is Ellery’s uncanny ability to conjure a whole life in a four-minute pop song, or weave a melody out of what would for others would be just an ostinato. Ellery’s songs have never been pretentious but these are more relaxed and surefooted. They have nothing to prove, and much to offer. They are generous, like lovers.
"Of course, there are things that give me pause: the curiously lo-fi toms and guitar sounds on 'After,' or the constant dangerous negotiation between distinctiveness and diction in Tasha’s vocals. Any use of chimes skirts the edge of cliche, and it’s hard not to fall on the other side.
"But there are other moments that make any liabilities utterly forgiveable. These are small touches — the delightfully jangly tambourine on 'What I Need.' And the Rhodes. Dear Lord, the Rhodes — is that real? (Don’t tell me.) The consistently artful and understated drumming. The use of ambience, of space, of delicate textures and evocative soundscapes. 'After''s plaintive harmonies (and it’s good to hear Justin’s voice). Proof that the electric guitar can sound good clean (or mostly so).
Darling, don’t be frightened
There are skies under your skin
In a wide array of white and gray
On wild winter winds.
"There’s a moment in the title track where the bottom drops out and Tasha is left suspended over almost nothing, vulnerable and naked, which she faces without flinching. And as the song unfolds from that moment, do we actually hear Tasha let her voice crack?
"God, that’s fetching."
released November 3, 2008
Drums, percussion, loops by Joshua Seurkamp
Everything else by Ellery
Recorded by Brian Stritenberger
Additional recording by Justin Golden
Mixed by Justin golden
Mastered by Richard Dodd, richarddodd.com
Photos, design by Roman Titus, romantitus.com
All Songs by Tasha & Justin Golden ©2008 Set Adrift Music (ASCAP)
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