One of the most exciting talents coming through this year’s Forté project is surely 18-year-old Elin Grace. The singer-songwriter from Mid Wales has just released an EP of sheer brilliance. ‘Bee Without Wings’ may only be her debut release but it demonstrates a maturity far beyond her years. Lyrically complex, sonically fascinating, vocally mesmerising, the whole record is absorbing from start to finish. With touches of Kate Bush, Lily Allen, Rona Mac and Amy Wadge, along with her particular inspiration Laura Marling, it is generous with genre while maintaining a consistency of sound. Always serving the narrative, the music becomes an accurate representation of each song: the fragile piano on ‘Little Bit Delicate’, the rhythmic synth of ‘Breathe’, the music box sound underlying ‘Doll’. All touch on mental health in some way, whether it be anxiety, self-esteem or depression. All contrast the expected angst of their subject matter with a poise that is strangely comforting – sometimes soft and light; ironic and even comic – to make this an EP shot through with eccentricity. It is as if Elin Grace is wanting to hold a mirror up to her experience to reveal its peculiarity. She is an artist of genuine depth, unafraid to share moments of personal vulnerability and confident to deconstruct the false values of contemporary society. ‘Bee Without Wings’ is a consummate piece of music-making. Elin Grace has a very bright future ahead of her.
Welsh singer-songwriter Eleri Angharad is ending a successful 2021 on a suitably festive note. A Merry Eleri Christmas is a pleasant four-track EP that returns to her folk roots whilst retaining an element of that experimental pop that worked so well on her debut EP,Nightclub Floor.
Opening track ‘Homemade Christmas’ certainly evokes the feel of her 2019 album Earthbound, with a ballad-like piano and subtle sleigh bells contributing to a romantic story told with Eleri’s soft and harmonious vocals front and centre. The stripped back nature of her music means that her cover of Justin Bieber’s ‘Mistletoe’ is much slower, less boppier than the original. The effect is a version suitably forged in rural Wales rather urban Tennessee. Not that Celtic folk defines this EP.
‘Santa’s Little Helper’ retains the sultry pop of ‘New Sin’, speaking to an independence that is the opposite of the first track. There is an appropriately bluesy guitar in the bridge that adds to an overall sense of self-empowerment, expressed perfectly in the lyrics “Santa’s little helper I was never gonna be/ or a pretty little angel sitting on your Christmas tree”. The production here is far from that found on final track ‘Santa Baby’. It is surprisingly acoustic, offering none of the seductiveness found in some other versions; instead, returning to the playfulness of Eartha Kitt’s original but with much more innocence infused into the fun.
It ends an EP that is sweetly festive without being too sickly; is easy listening but not saccharine.
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