Lost Without You EP – Ellie Lawson

3 stars (out of 5)

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Sometimes the review game can be really rewarding; you hear great new music and get to write about it.  Sometimes it can be really frustrating.  Guess which category this EP from Ellie Lawson falls into?

But let’s get the facts out of the way first.  The EP is out on November 15 and there are 5 tracks: “Lost Without You”, “Change the Way”, “How Hard We Try”, “Friends” and “Ba Ba Da”.  You can get all the official material on Ellie on her Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/ellielawsonmusic including samples from the EP and a free download.  Just out of interest, why do we have to “like” something before we get the chance to hear it?

So why is it so frustrating?  Well, the first song “Lost Without You” is a good example.   From the outset, it’s obvious that Ellie has a strong and very distinctive voice; you could justifiably compare it to early Joni Mitchell.  The trite subject matter of the song (escaping from the debauchery of the celebrity lifestyle) is such a cliché that the power of such a great voice is almost completely wasted.

The cutesy arrangements on “Change the Way” and “Ba Ba Da” don’t help.  Ukulele and whistling might have seemed like a great way of sounding distinctive, but the finished product just sounds affected and twee and certainly not the best way of showcasing a strong and original voice.  But that’s only 3 of the 5 songs on the EP.

“How Hard We Try” is built on a trip-hop feel with a nice acoustic guitar figure to push the song along and “Friends” is a much more traditional arrangement with acoustic guitar and strings.  It’s a personal opinion, but these songs work much better because they use a more traditional framework.  These 2 songs are enough to show that Ellie Lawson is a genuine talent and she should be a success in her own right in the long term.
This EP has a feel of the clever kid at school who wants to show how varied their influences are and how many different styles they can work in instead of a showcase for a great vocal talent and that’s what’s frustrating.  With a different set of songs and less quirky arrangements, this could have been a great introduction to an artist with a truly original and memorable voice.  I’m sure that there are better things to come.