Daniel Ellis Easley aka Ellis Easley is a songwriter hailing from Houston, Texas. He began writing the five-song EP Awful Instincts back in 2014 and it was released at the beginning of last year.
Easley creates uplifting yet melancholic folk music that reminded me of Silversun Pickups, Local Natives and Bon Iver. At the center of these songs is a guitar and vocals. That being said the piano, vocal harmonies, drums and more add an extra layer of emotional appeal.
As for the production I'd say it is not quite something you would expect from a professional studio but better than the average DIY home recording. The one thing the EP did need was to be properly mastered as some of the songs were noticeably louder than others. He starts with the title track which is a solid track that contains nice rolling grooves and superb vocal harmonies. His lead vocals sound a bit tortured on this song but work against the music.
The highlight on the EP was ”Original Species.” It starts with a warm synth and percussion that gives way to guitar. You can tell right away this song is one you will remember as it gives off a sense of perseverance and hope. The chorus which is the finest moment on the EP is memorable and on par with something you would hear from the Local Natives. I did have one issue with the song and that was that the vocals almost sound like a rap towards the end of the song. They sounded out of place and ruined the beautiful harmonies.
Easley doesn't hit the heights of “Original Species” again but there are some inspired moments along the way. “The Boy Who Found He Could Fly” is fairly straightforward folk song that feels like it lived in a more commercially viable place while “Remind Me” has a classic ’60s folk vibe. “Skeletons” is the runner up on the EP. The vocal harmonies are an integral part of the song and something that Easley should continue to use.
Easley is at his best when he rides an optimistic, triumphant vibe with multiples layers like he does on “Skeletons” and ”Original Species.” This is the foundation I hope he builds his full length on.
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