The Sound Cafe
Elles Bailey Brings The Sounds Of Nashville To Her Much Anticipated Third Album
A meditative timestamp reflecting the isolation, uncertainty and worry prevalent amongst society throughout the outbreak of the pandemic, Shining In The Half Light is an album of self-realization, but one that lets everyone share in its sense of realism and, ultimately, positivity. It’s a record inspired by those who spread love in a time of heartbreak, happiness in a time of fear, and connection in a time of loneliness. Shining In The Half Light sits at 10 tracks offering nothing short of a brazen, bold and bluesy disposition.
For many artists, the events of the past two years have induced a profuse of challenges. Still, when you’re recognized as one of the hardest-working women in blues, rock and roots music, not even the tumultuous ongoings we’ve collectively faced can falter the laser-focused determination that Elles Bailey hones so offhandedly. Having powered her way to the forefront of the British Blues and Roots scene in recent years, this heavily-awaited third instalment is yet another significant step forward in a career already dignified with huge acclamation and a plentiful of awards.
Without hesitation, opening track ‘Cheats And Liars’ launches the album in true Elles Bailey fashion, gracefully bonafide from the outset. Typically not one to throw lyrical punches, we see a new side to Bailey within the introductory minutes of the album, alternately delivering knockout blows. ‘Cheats And Liars’ is Elles’ response to the people sitting quaintly in their ivory towers after showing a lack of regard for those working in the arts. “Thirty-eight percent of musicians, including myself, didn't get any kind of government funding, and some people lost everything. It's been so hard watching how arts has been undervalued at a time when that was what was bringing people together.”
Abundant with flare ‘The Game’, presents Elles’ iconic husky vocals atop riffy layerings - emblazoned with charisma which persists going into track three, ‘Stones’. Plug yourself in and oblige to be consumed by the beguiling workings of Elles Bailey; you can’t help but subconsciously be transported to a location central of Tennessee.
‘Colours Start To Run’ sees the mood shift, leading into the gentle and romantic ‘Different Kind Of Love’. A subdued halfway mark, poised of delicate lulls, tenderness and warmth. Whilst the sultry ‘Who’s That’ sees the soulful remarks return with a hypnotic chorus-driven six-string, the roaring warble of an organ and a creamy blend of voices. ‘Sunshine City’ ramps up the heat, heading into the closing tracks of the record, full of frisk, grit and buoyancy, easing off into the sentimental acoustics of ‘Halfway House’. Penultimate track, ‘Riding Out The Storm’ is a slow-flowing, philosophical number carrying us to closing track ‘Shining In The Half Light’.
Being a new mother, Elles found an unsuspected comfort in the dystopian haze the pandemic placed the world within. She’s explained how having to get off the road, and stepping back to have a baby, would’ve been difficult had she watched everyone else around her carry on doing their thing. The dismal forced stop allowed for growing room and, ultimately, a pertinent shift in perspective. The first of Elles' albums to be fully recorded in the UK - Shining In The Half Light was created whilst she was six months pregnant. Tracking was completed just weeks before Elles gave birth to her first child, and she sat in the hospital waiting room listening to mixes on the big day!
Shining In The Half Light is Bailey’s third full-length album. Featuring guitarist Joe Wilkins, bassist Matthew Waer, Jonny Henderson on the Ivories and drummer Matthew Jones, the record was captured at Middle Farm Studios (Devon) in December 2020 - produced by unlikely creative counterpart, Dan Weller (Enter Shikari). The follow up to 2019’s LP, Road I Call Home, Elles was keen to feature more gospel-infused elements with this next take; in steps Izo Fitzroy. An incredible artist in her own right, Fitzroy arranged the stunning backdrop of vocal opulence heard on Shining In The Half Light, latterly performed alongside Jade Elliot and Andrusilla Mosley.
A profound team of co-writers were involved in the project, with three credits for Ash Tucker and Will Edmunds (previous collaborators of 2019’s Road I Call Home). Longtime guitarist Joe Wilkins (Riding Out The Storm), guitar maestro Martin Harley (Different Kind Of Love), and Matt Owens of indie-folk outfit Noah And The Whale (Sunshine City). Writers Alex Maile, Tamara Stewart and Brett Boyett also have a track each.
At the height of the pandemic last year, Elles unveiled Ain’t Nothing But. A series of cover version livestreams “totally unedited, completely stripped nail and bare to the bones.” The ensuing record was nominated as Blues Album of the Year at the UK Blues Awards 2021, where Elles was named UK Blues Artist of the Year for the second year running. A notable feat subsequent to her previous success at the same awards in 2020 - winning Album of the Year with the critically acclaimed Road I Call Home. Elles also won UK Song of the Year at the 2020 UK Americana Awards with the album’s track ‘Little Piece of Heaven’ (co-written with Bobby Wood and Dan Auerbach).
"This album has been about getting to know who I am without the show, the stage and the splendour. Unraveling the layers and being ok with them.” - Elles Bailey