September 2018 saw our first review of Ralph Beeby and the Elephant Collective’s first EP, First Light. As a reviewer who likes voices, I thoroughly enjoyed the deep resonance of Ralph’s vocals that lend themselves so well to the blues music he has created and this is seen to even greater effect on his latest EP, The Imperfect Cadence of Gloom and Ennui.
The earthy blues rhythms that made First Light essential listening for blues fans are here again in Gloom and Ennui, with the raw power of Ralph’s vocals and intricate guitars again combining to give us something that feels searingly honest and heartfelt. The songs take us through the age old story of drinking your blues away which gives the EP a coherent feel. Close your eyes and sitting back with a bottle of Tennessee bourbon comes easily to mind.
Before you read on, Ralph is giving a FREE download of “Powerless”, to Angry Baby readers. If you’re not already subscribed to Angry Baby, just pop the email address that you’d like it delivered to here and it will be on its way to you straight away, together with a bumper collection of music that has been shared by Angry Baby. The music comes from outstanding artists that you may not have heard before. With a mix of rock, pop, folk…you name it…there’s bound to be something new that floats your musical boat, and all for free! What’s not to like about that?!
With the first stripped back notes of the first track, ‘Blue Bone‘ plunges us straight into deep blues territory starting on a journey that you know from the off will end in at best, yet more drinking and apathy. Just what would drive a man to drink until he forgets, is the subject of ‘The Secret‘; happily, Ralph lets us decide for ourselves what the secret might be. The instrumentals of ‘Lydia’s Question‘ and ‘Dorian’s Answer‘, either side of ‘The Secret’ aid the speculation no end. Together with ‘The Yaddle of Bethnop‘, these instrumental tracks add to the close atmosphere prevalent throughout Gloom and Ennui, giving the listener time to absorb the music as a whole.
‘Our Man Stan‘ is the track that stands out both musically and lyrically, recounting the troubles that might well lead to drink. The protagonist seems indeed to be doom laden, so much so that the progression into the last track, ‘Slip Away‘ is inevitable. Just what the slipping away means is open to interpretation although “let me slip away…I don’t want to face the morning” may give some indication. As with First Light, Ralph gives us some lovely lyrics, my favourite being the gloriously British line about drunkenness, “three sheets to the wind”, contained in ‘Slip Away‘.
If you love blues music of any sort then you’ll love this EP, it’s a fine addition to modern blues music.
Ralph’s advice for aspiring musicians is great for those just starting out:
“Be patient, be persistent, and above all be prepared to do everything for yourself. There’s an enduring myth of a record company’s ‘magic hand’, which plucks talented artists out of obscurity and pops them onto a big stage at Glastonbury or Wembley Arena, and I think this encourages us to pander to X-factor style TV talent shows, and anyone who works in or near a major label. Ignore them; instead, spend that time and effort building a deeper relationship with your fans, because they’re the ones who will come through for you in the long run.”
An Imperfect Cadence of Gloom and Ennui was released on April 22. Get your copy here.
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