Monday, 9 November 2020

Album Review: Black Light by Ash Ellis (by Emma Prew)

Ash Ellis is a solo acoustic songwriter based in Southampton. Taking inspiration from the likes of Ducking Punches and The Front Bottoms, Ash aims to ‘add a folk spin to punk orientated vibes’. The Black Light EP, which consists of three fully polished tracks and two bonus demos, was released on 24th October and the artwork immediately enticed me to have a listen.

The EP opens with its title track, Black Light. It’s a slow builder of a track and one that is on the quiet side of the folk punk spectrum with a wonderful gentle violin part that oozes emotion into an already emotional song. The song is about feeling lost and alone in life, with no real sense of purpose or clear direction with regards to what to do next. It sounds a pretty bleak subject matter but the song does end on a more positive note – ‘And I don't know if this is worth it, Things always seem to worsen, So maybe I'll make a clean break from it, I refuse to die a nervous person.’ Opening with a soft strum of the acoustic guitar and the line ‘I'm spiralling through space and time…’, Black Light II: The Saddening unsurprisingly continues the melancholic tone of the first song – it is part two, after all. The Saddening is about wanting to open up to someone about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through but only if they can do the same with you. Ash displays a real skill with words throughout the song, not least in the chorus – ‘But like poetry you rhyme, The only sense that I could find, If you show me your insides, I’ll show you mine.’

The third song on the EP is titled Prison Love Letters. The songwriting on display in this song really reminds me of some of Frank Turner’s softer tunes circa England Keep My Bones – and I 100% do not mean that as an insult. There’s a great sense of storytelling throughout the track, it almost feels like you’re listening to someone reading the pages of a novel. Again, the music is definitely on the quieter side of folk punk but there’s so much going on in the lyrics that I don’t think it matters. The last two songs on Black Light are technically demos but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth checking out. In fact, the somewhat raw and unpolished nature of both Let The Strings Ring Out and Emotional Showman feels more accessible. I could definitely imagine watching Ash Ellis playing these live in a small bar or basement type venue, unplugged and with a group of happy music fans singing along to every word. The EP closes with some lyrics that seem pretty apt – ‘I’ll see you at the end of all this noise, There's so much fucking noise, And so much to destroy, See you at the end of all this noise.’

Stream and download Black Light on Bandcamp here.

Like Ash Ellis on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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