Acoustic guitars; breathy, chordal harmonicas; and lyrics centred on the un-fairness of life; modern Folk music in general can be a rather tedious, repetitive and slow genre; following standard formulae without much in the way of variety. This is a comment that doesn’t apply to Round Two, the debut offering from Brighton-based Ellen & The Echo. These whimsical folkies have managed to capture a cross section of acoustic styles and relaxed, tasteful pop. The haunting trumpet lines which pierce through the tracks create a chilled out atmosphere and gives the whole EP a slightly Jazzy feel.
The EP covers many kinds of folk. From acoustic guitar-led slow, mournful songs, to “Tell Me This” which is reminiscent of the Folk-Rock tracks from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Especially as the lyrics seem to have a similar theme: “You hit me once, I hit you twice. You want to play naughty I think you’re too nice…”
Tasteful additions of little trumpet riffs and soulfully harmonised backing vocals make this 8-piece sound larger than it really is. Tripped Up no only shows off the slow, tastefulness of Ellen’s vocal lines, but also gives the electric guitar a chance to show off in an Eagles Ballad-style solo. Harmonica features in folk songs are often a dangerous idea, with many a good track being ruined by an incessant, chordal breathing in and out over the top of the rest of the music. Instead, the minimal way in which it is used makes “Memo” into a slow, mountain shuffle, which underlies a slow trumpet line. The range of Ellen’s vocals is wider than a great many singers that are out there nowadays, which gives the tracks an emotional depth.
This album is very well written, with most emphasis on the quality of the song-writing,, as opposed to any technical wizardry so to speak. What makes the EP work is the fact that it has that old-world feel, suggesting a world where folk music and electric instruments were colliding for the first time.