I had hit a mental wall again. My motivation and drive were at an all-time low, and I found myself unable to lift myself up and out of the funk I had caught myself in. I had a few albums to review and to be honest they were the kind that sucks any life force from you. Dark and dank albums, full of angst and sorrow. I got them reviewed, but it left me feeling quite low. It’s no secret I suffer from various bouts of anxiety and depression, and I needed something to lift myself up.
I really wish I had listened to this album sooner.
Daniel Ellsworth + the Great Lakes (DE + TGL) is a three-piece outfit from Nashville. They combine synths and guitars to create a tapestry of sonic beauty, which feels like it comes from a different time.
In January of this year, they released ‘Chapter One’, a three track EP. April saw the release of’ Chapter Two’ and a further three Tracks. ‘Fashion’ adds six additional songs and together make up this album.
As soon as the first bars of ‘Paralyzed’ started playing, I felt everything begin to lift away. The low mood and lack of energy seemingly seeping through my pores and disbursed into my surrounding atmosphere.
This album has an extremely eighties vibe to it, and synthesisers are used to excellent effect. Paired with Daniel Ellsworth’s vocal work and you have a match made in heaven. At first listen, I thought He was a British singer. His vocal range is extremely varied, and at times his voice can get very high, seemingly effortlessly. It’s a silky smooth style of singing and suits the music of this album beautifully.
Bass is heavily present on every track, something that is needed more in music today. So often, you find it buried too deep in the mix, hidden amongst all the other instruments. You know it’s there, It’s just hard to pick out any form or definition. Like when I know my cat is under the duvet when I see the covered shape of her and watch as the duvet comes to life as she moves to the edge and drops to the floor.
That’s certainly not the case with ‘Fashion’. The production is amazingly clean, with a massive dynamic range and soundstage. The bass played by Marshall Skinner in astounding style and prowess adds an enormous amount of texture to each track, bringing everything to life just a little bit more. The Guitar work is also admirable, with a fantastic solo on the track Running. Timon Lance plays with soul and prowess and mimics a “Comfortably Numb” style solo on this one. The drums are also fantastic, moving the music in just the right direction with the pace needed while entwining with the bass brilliantly. Never too complicated in nature, but also never dull and boring. It creates a solid backbone for all the other instrumentation to build around and its done well.
This album is hugely infectious and joyful, while also containing some brilliant lyrics. At times it reminded me of ‘Perfect Symmetry’ by Keane. That album also had a similar euphoric and captivating aura about it. I was pleasantly surprised with ‘Fashion’ and found it at just the right time. Beautifully sounding, extraordinarily affirming and danceable. It is a very easy listen, organic and natural while dealing with all the issues of life we all face but done in a positive and funky way.
Daniel Ellsworth + the Great Lakes’ album is something that can be put on in the background and has so much replay value. I also think it is a perfect soundtrack for anyone suffering from anxiety or depression. It is an uplifting journey and one I feel better for undertaking.
With lyrics that can make you stop and reflect on life, future and past, dreams and everything you wish to change and even stuff you want to keep as it is, ‘Fashion’ is a deep album lyrically and is exceptionally cleverly written.
Tracks of note:
One of the best albums of 2018 and definitely a band to watch out for.