Ellie Goulding Halcyon on LP
If the singing voice is merely a vehicle for a melody, a means of putting across a verse, a bridge, a chorus, well, somebody forgot to tell Ellie Goulding. As her debut album, Lights, made so thrillingly clear, Ellie uses her voice as a texture in much the same way that a skilled instrumentalist would. It is, in other words, a sound, in Ellie’s case, an utterly distinctive and unforgettable one, that can play as important a role in her songs as any other musical detail.
Cascading, dovetailing, soaring, swooping, Ellie’s layered vocal parts bring a haunting complexity to songs that often come from relatively uncomplicated origins: observations, memories and emotions that trigger a melody, a lyric, bare bones around which Ellie will then build musical and verbal narratives that are at once ornate and austere, passionate and enigmatic. Never likely to be one of those singers who is content just to turn up, lay down a main vocal part and leave, Ellie’s approach to writing and recording is, she admits, borderline obsessive, but then, anything less, she says, would be a waste of time.
Not even the most ardent fan or keenest student of Lights is going to be prepared for the shock of Ellie’s new album Halcyon, however. A musical, vocal and lyrical tempest, the new record describes a journey out of heartache and towards hope, from desolation to renewed faith in the future, set to music that is alternately strident and stunned, emphatic and tentative. It is almost as if you can hear Ellie’s psyche shrinking and then renewing, rebooting itself.
From the opening vocal chanting of “Don’t Say a Word” to the last bars of “Dead In the Water,” Halcyon is the product of two-and-a-half tumultuous years in Ellie’s life: a Brit award, the release of Lights, love, loss, writer’s block, a new relationship, singing at the White House and at a certain spring wedding, a number one pop single, confronting her doubts and fears, digging deep and locating her artistry again, returning to the countryside she grew up in and, in a converted barn, making a record that confirms her as one of this country’s most singular and compelling songwriters.
Recorded just down the road from the Herefordshire village where Ellie spent her childhood, and co-produced by Ellie with Jim Eliot (Kish Mauve, Kylie, Ladyhawke), Halcyon is an album whose title belies much of its content. “Giving it that name does seem a bit ironic,” Ellie concedes, “because it’s quite a sad album. But then the songs that are joyous are so joyous. And it’s such a beautiful word.”
Ellie Goulding Halcyon Track Listing:
1. Don't Say A Word
2. My Blood
3. Anything Could Happen
4. Only You
6. Figure 8
8. Hanging On
10. I Know You Care
12. Dead in the Water