It was sunny today. For the first time in a good long while. I thought this would be the perfect weather in which to enjoy Ellen and the Escapades. I thought ‘All the Crooked Scenes’, the first album from this Leeds band would be the perfect summer soundtrack. I was wrong, but in a good way. Ellen and the Escapades have surprised me because they have served up something much more layered; sure there are the catchy pop songs like ‘Without You’, but there is also melancholy, ballads and a strong country influence that I was not entirely expecting. This is clear on songs like ‘This Ace I’ve Burned’ where Ellen’s husky vocals, reminiscent of Caitlin Rose, are joined my some slow piano and even a harmonica solo.
However, I feel the band are at their strongest when all the instrumentation comes together and really pushes forward, on songs like the opener ‘Run’ and title song ‘All the Crooked Scenes’. Ellen’s strong, distinctive vocals still take centre stage but they are at their most effective, I feel, when the songs move away from the quiet balladry into the stronger, bigger, grander themes.
This is not a perfect album, there are moments in the middle when the songs all become a bit similar and you find yourself wishing the band would move out of third gear. However, on the whole, I was very pleasantly surprised by Ellen and the Escapades, they manage to cover a variety of styles, while staying true to that traditional country sound.
Stand-out Tracks: Run, All the Crooked Scenes and Cast
Overall Rating : 3.5/5