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Nick Ellis - Speakers' Corner

  by Steve Kinrade

published: 3 / 11 / 2018

Nick Ellis - Speakers' Corner
Label: Mellowtone Records
Format: CD


Politically and socially conscious latest album from Liverpool-based singer-songwriter Nick Ellis that gives voice to twelve individual characters

Not long after the release on 'Adult Fiction', we are now presented with another album release by Nick Ellis - 'Speakers’ Corner', which continues, and arguably surpasses, the majesty of its predecessor. It’s author took inspiration from the Dooley/Hunter design for an iron podium tha acted as a “speakers corner”, until it was removed by Liverpool City Council. Quite ironic that what is considered to be a “socialist republic” of the UK could commit such a obvious, negative symbolic gesture. Ellis states that he created “twelve characters to stand on it and talk, brought them alive through song and made them into a record.” But if each song is a character, not all of them have speaking parts, but the instrumentals add to the sense of the whole. They can be enjoyed as individual tracks, which highlight Ellis’ mastery of his instrument, or can be viewed and the binding instrumentals to the narrative, in the same way that Britten’s 'The Four Sea Interludes' augment 'Peter Grimes'. It is also interesting to dig behind the titles of these instrumentals, to see perhaps there is another layer of meaning attached to these compositions. 'Sally Go-Round The Roses'; 'Mick’s Walk'; 'The Fisher-Bendix Tree' and 'Lawrence Road Breakdown'. So could Ellis be alluding to the fact that the Jaynetts version of 'Sally Go-Round The Roses' cost $60k to produce, and its multi-talent arranger only got three bucks for his efforts? Is this Ellis giving Artie Butler his voice? And does 'Mick’s Walk' allude to Evertonian 'Speedo Mick', who trekked from Liverpool to Lyon to benefit various charities? If so, Ellis gives musical voice to such public spirited, altruistic endeavours. Great music. Strong melody. Great lyrics. This is what you demand, and Ellis has the knack, the creative inspiration, to deliver. Its a nice distraction to imagine other singers attempting his songs: and this is in no way intimating his are mere pastiches. No, they are that good. For instance, Johnny Cash singing 'Jesus Of Twine' in his prime. He would - like the composer does - revel in the hypocrisy of social and political life. Isn’t it time we all looked in the mirror and asked ourselves the question “Who you going to be tonight?” The album gets off to an upbeat start - 'I Get Love', Ellis singing up-temp over a familiar chord progression, giving his character an outlet to bemoan the sometime link between romance and financial means. The line “busting buttons Monday through to Friday nights” captures the tedium of hard work. Production of the album is sparse and tasteful, to emphasise the importance of the speakers voice. So you may get to catch a little “percussive” runs on the guitar ('Around Midnight'), or appreciate the expansive sound of 'Impractical Ideas', and that it compliments the lyric“As you find yourself on top of the world”, and not forgetting that last percussive strike as it rings out to the end of the song. 'Blue Summer' sees Ellis at his very finest melody, lyrics, voice, sentiment, and empathy - “And even the wraiths get lost in the lights/like shadows escape into the night”. This is a set of songs that reveal more things to you the listener at every visit; some perhaps what Ellis intended, some he probably hadn’t even thought about. But as an musical exercise in bearing witness -giving a voice - to individuals and how they are affected by many of life’s “slings and arrows”, it hits the mark squarely in the centre. It’s his best work to date, without question, and consolidates and expands his artistic vision.'Speakers Corner' ends with the harmonica-fuelled work-out that is 'Lawrence Road Breakdown'. He concluded his Liverpool launch gig the same way, with the sell out audience stomping and clapping in unison. A collective voicing their individual voices. Speaking up. And Nick Ellis wouldn’t want it any other way

Track Listing:-
1 I Get Love
2 mpractical Ideas
3 Sally-Go-Round the Roses
4 Jesus of Twine
5 Around Midnight
6 Mick's Walk
7 Wrote My Baby a Letter
8 The She Club Mystery
9 The Fisher-Bendix Tree
10 Blue Summer
11 Hearts and Minds
12 Lawrence Road Breakdown

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Interview (2017)
Nick Ellis - Interview
Singer-songwriter Nick Ellis talks to Benjamin Howarth about his extraordinary debut album 'Daylight Ghosts' and his early musical influences

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Adult Fiction (2017)
Minimal but haunting and enthralling latest album from Liverpool-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Nick Ellis
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