Kate Ellis - Spirals Vinyl Album Launch - The Green Note
Nearly a year ago "Spirals" was unleashed with a celebratory gig at the Betsy Trotwood and now the arrival of 300 black vinyl platters is enough to have assembled a "Sold Out" crowd to The Green Note to celebrate their emergence into the world! Kate Ellis's sophmore record showed a development in sound on its predecessor, bigger and bolder while the subjects of the songs saw Kate run her rule over the environmental state of the world as well as over herself to provide 10 classic tracks, expanded to 11 on the vinyl version.
Alongside Kate on guitar and backing vocals will be husband Andy Hobsbawm and behind the front line, 2 musicians play a multiple number of instruments sometimes even within the same song as they try to replicate the feeling of "Spirals" if not an exact sound replica. They will do a sterling job throughout the highly entertaining evening.
The evening will be divided into 2 parts and the whole of "Spirals" will be played along with some visits to the debut album "Carve Me Out" and a couple of covers, one less likely perhaps than the other. The opening three song will mirror the sequence of the record, starting with "Can't Not". There is lovely warm acoustic sound from the stand up bass, complemented by the fiddle and the guitars of Kate and Andy.
Kate seems to visibly grow once she takes to the stage, between songs she is often to be found supporting a beaming grin, yet once a song starts she does not so much sing them, as inhabit them, her eyes close and she seems to really get to the core of what she is singing about - it is fascinating to watch. For "Bluebirds & Rye", the fiddle is marvellously understated, giving a celtic feel on this message back to her daughter from her acquired wisdom over the years. The first signs of the versatility of the backline kick in for "Another Way", Nick Ereaut, the bass player moves to the keyboard, while Joseph Paxton on fiddle moves to melodica. The piano intro to immediately announces the change in style. and the melodica combined with the vocals of Kate and Andy make this totally absorbing.
Things speed up for the country rock 'n'' roll of "Scars", which had a real hoedown fiddle and guitar and takes us out to the wild west and sees Kate revel in her alter ego role as she say the lines
"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
But after four bourbons, three scotches, two shots and a chaser
I was ready to forgive him again"
It all made for some unrivalled good fun.
As mentioned earlier "Spirals" tackles many issues including our damage to the environment, which is perfectly captured in "Wonderland" where Kate sings
"My hearts aching - every inch of me is shaking to see the beauty we are breaking"
The recorded version has a massive sound, tonight the piano will do the heavy lifting, while the fiddle will add a poignant beauty to the overall sound as Kate pours out her frustrations.
Interestingly Kate refers to "Spirals" the title track, as being the "marmite" song of the album, presumably referring to jaunty stop start nature of the song which at first never seems to go where you think it should and so maybe people can't get along with it. The first half will close with the title track of the first album "Carve Me Out" writtien in the wake of the death of Kate's Mum, the combination of Kate's words and vocal, mixed with the evocative fiddle make this one of the truly moving moments of the night.
The events that close out the first half of the evening lead on to the song that opens the second half, "I Am The Tree", when you realise you are moving to the top of the family tree. Andy and Kate's vocals work so well together and the show immediately picks up where it left off with another stellar performance. The upbeat tune of the second half will be "The Other Side Of The Street" superbly enhanced by having double backing vocals, but don't mistake this for a happy song as the words are somewhat downbeat!.
The gentle melodies of "Wolf" are followed by another of the stand out moments of the whole evening as Kate once again visits her debut album for "I Believe".
It sees Joseph switch from melodica to fiddle midsong.
It is one of those moments where everything comes together, the lyrics, the bands playing and an exemplary vocal performance all combining to collectively make something greater than the sum of the individual parts - truly moving and totally special,
The unexpected cover comes in the shape of the Nine Inch Nail's cover "Hurt", better known maybe to an Amercana crowd via the Johnny Cash version. Personally I do struggle a little with Kate singing of drug taking but there is no denying that the band make a fine fist of it, the fiddle giving the song some real atmosphere and when Kate closes on the line "I Will Find a Way" perhaps she is able to find some hitherto unnoticed salvation in the reletlessly bleak lyrics.
Time seemed to race by and it seemed barely had we started before we were hearing the closing number "The Story You've Been Told" with Kate and Andy's vocals seemingly entwining with the fiddle in a perfect marriage.
The closing number was to be a cover and also a tribute to two great Americana figures in the shape of John Prine and Nanci Griffith. If there were doubts about "Hurt" then there were never going to be the same concerns with a
cover of "Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness" - Kate was simply born to sing this - and definitely managed to channel her inner "Nanci" on a splendid version, with Joseph's fiddle being delightfully prominent, along with Andy's guitar, if John and Nanci were looking down they would surely have approved of this version which serenaded us out into the streets of Camden.
Both Of Kate's excellent albums & much more are available at https://www.kateellis.com/shop