The reasons to love California harpist EllaHarp are numerous. To start, she brings the harp into genres no one has ever considered a harp to be. She works in blues, jazz, pop and even places a little more known for harp like folk. Bottom line, she is liberating the harp from genre constraints. Now, to be a harp liberator you need to be armed with a weapon and she's got just the thing. With the help of a metal working friend, she has fashioned her own harp which produces a one of a kind sound that transcends all genres. I just wanna pause and acknowledge how badass this is. She BUILT the instrument she needed. I love this woman.
EllaHarp's latest album is Who Asked You Back and to my delight, it's a breakup album. Don't get me wrong, I don't wish breakups on anyone, but for whatever reason, some of my favorite albums of all time are breakup albums. Her writing abilities are off the chart. This album is a mixture of pointed attitude and honest reflection. "The Widow of Glasgow Green" is a song that completely melted me. It's so good and fits her gorgeous voice and that harp like a glove. I'd like to take another moment to establish that her voice really is fantastic. She possesses a sultry and understated style that is like velvet to my ears. I completely swoon when I hear her. On the whole, the album is low key and chill and turns the atmosphere around you down to a comfortably cool level.
There's a few added instruments and support in the album but not much. For the most part it's just the artist and the harp working magic. To be honest I would've welcomed a full orchestra behind her, mainly to help truly bring that awesome harp into other genres. The artist spent four years in Scotland where she studied the native music and she brings that into that album as well, and those songs are beautiful. I appreciate the bare bones approach for most of the tracks but there were a few where i did feel something was missing.
One thing I think I really wanted to her was a percussive element next to that harp. I feel like there's something special there that has yet to be tapped and I'm dying to hear it. The mixing and mastering for the most part was decent but there were a few songs where I struggled a little bit. The harp is powerful and on certain occasions overwhelmed her vocals. Considering there's not really a precedent for this instrument, I could certainly understand it being tricky to work out.
EllaHarp is a revolutionary and should be encouraged to keep forging forward. Who Asked You Back is a cool album with lots of surprises and a nice mix of old school and new school craftsmanship. There is nothing like EllaHarp out there that has stuck out to me, and for that alone I say check out the album.
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