Kate Ellis is a singer songwriter born in Louisiana yet raised in New York with an occasional Irish lilt to her voice who has arrived with a cracking batch of tunes and with tales that could beak the hardest heart. Relatively simply produced giving the album an almost live feel to it, with the instrumentation providing a key yet never overpowering support, this is a highly impressive collection of songs albeit often tinged with a degree of sadness. The one constant being the impressive lyrics and the voice which so often has an upbeat sound despite exposing the frailties of the human condition.
The album opens with “Don’t Lie To Me”, a perfect introduction, awash with a gorgeous guitar and fiddle backing, and a seemingly jaunty chorus. However, the gentle bouncy happy sounding song belies the lyric about being lied too by someone professing to love you.
“Ones You Love The Most” is one of the best songs you’ll hear all year. Wearing its Celtic influences proudly on its sleeve, there are little vignettes of people who for whatever reason have come to decide that to leave is the right thing even if it hurts their nearest and dearest. It is a song that immediately makes an impact the first time you hear it. The relatively simple yet effective backing providing the perfect backdrop for these mini dramas, while Kate’s vocals have both a beauty and a sadness to them.
The heart wrenching impact continues into the next song “I Believe”, a song beautifully painted in lyrics “Why, she said, do you stay with me I’m the last thing that you need” is the opening couplet to a song packed full of drama. The sumptuous chorus being provided by the man’s response. There is wonderful instrumentation and some sublime backing vocal arrangements that really lift this track to being something special. It also comes with an upbeat ending as he assures her “Me and you babe we’re going to be alright”.
“Paper Scissor Rock” sees a relationship seen through the prism a childhood game. It’s a clever lyrical device as we see the relationship at different points, the most hard hitting being when she realises that she is dulling her partners edge where “You were scissors, I was rock”. Kate once again hides the bleakness of the lyrics in the tune which sounds remarkably upbeat.
“Carve Me Out” the title track, is the penultimate track on the album, starts with slow guitar and fiddle and is tribute to a strong maternal who has now passed on but lives on in Kate and her children. It’s a lovely tribute, short and simple yet beautifully affecting.
“Night Before The Dawn is another ballad with a haunting harmonica that comes with some seriously dark lyrics “There are days when I could live or die When I’m barely hanging on” as she contemplates life without a great love.
As a debut it is a quite remarkable piece of work, with influences such as Nanci Griffith easy to pick out. There is a vinyl album launch later in the month at The Islington which looks set to be a must see event.