I remember the first time I heard Ellie Goulding. That statement sounds like the makings of an “I remember the first time I heard the Beatles” story (well, they are all British). But seriously, I remember the first time I heard Ellie Goulding. It was in 2009 at Cafeteria NYC (you know, the restaurant on “Sex & the City” where Stanford finds out his boyfriend doubles as a male escort named “Paul”). Anyway, Ellie’s cover of Sam Sparro’s “Black and Gold” was playing in the restaurant. It was an electro rendition of Sparro’s slick hit, and hearing her ethereal voice ooze lines like “If vision is the only validation, then most of my life isn’t real” made the song evolve from a sexy club hit into an indie girl anthem. Ellie has gone on to cover some other top notch hits like Rihanna’s “Only Girl In the World” and Elton John’s “Your Song”, which coincidentally appears on her US debut album Lights.
The question is, if someone is that good at covering someone else’s music, can she make her own sound that good? She sure can.
Lights is a project that has taken on many forms since Ellie’s year plus time in the spotlight. She’s already a top-selling slash charting artist in the UK with BRIT Awards and BBC Awards under her belt. Her debut album in the UK (also titled Lights) arrived almost a year ago to the date. Then, at the close of 2010, she released Bright Lights, which was Lights plus more tracks and remixes. Our US version is a combination of both, neatly trimmed down to eleven tracks.
Most of the essentials appear on Ellie’s U.S. introduction, but if we’re being picky then her demo turned fame starter “Wish I Stayed” should have appeared on this album, along with “Little Dreams” from Bright Lights. However, good stuff is still there, including “Starry Eyed”, the candy-coated electro-pop masterpiece that made the New York Times’ Top Songs of 2010 list. The album’s title track has been slightly tweaked to sound more dancefloor ready with “beating up the beat” basslines, along with “Under the Sheets” with Ellie beating on a tom-tom drum in the video and live in concert. One of the hidden gems on the album is “Animal”, which begins with a heavy-handed harp and grows into an electronic track, embodying the genre Ellie has come to own, known as Folktronica.
The remaining tracks are a conjugation of the “folk” and the “electronica”, with a balance of folkiness (“The Writer”), and digi-breakdowns (“Salt Skin”).
Sure, we’re currently praying to the church of Adele while simultaneously waiting for Jessie J to show us how to “Do It Like a Dude”. But in between those two worlds sits Ellie Goulding, who deserves our attention just as much.
By Kathy Iandoli
Ellie Goulding: Lights - Cherry Tree Recordings/Interscope
Picture from: Ellie Goulding Official Site