"Possessed of an infectious laugh, which on first hearing may take you aback, her between songs links are half ‘oh my gosh’ goofy, half crystal clear personal convictions."
4 1/2 stars.Infectious, engaging, breathtaking and inspirational.
Houston, Texas born, Minneapolis, Minnesota based Ellis (Delaney nee Bergeron) was one of the half-dozen New Folk Song Contest winners at this year’s Kerrville Folk Festival. WHEREVER YOU ARE is a triple disc set, discs one and two combined spanning almost 100 minutes (duration), with each disc featuring eight songs. WHEREVER YOU ARE was recorded on October 20, 2012 at the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. Disc three delivers ten songs [*], seven drawn from Disc 1, stripped of Ellis’ introductions and audience applause.
Ellis has likened sharing her songs with an audience as ‘a conversation,’ and proof of that summation is contained on discs one and two. Possessed of an infectious laugh, which on first hearing may take you aback, her between songs links are half ‘oh my gosh’ goofy, half crystal clear personal convictions. Ellis launches disc one with the autumnal and inspirational 500 Crows [*]—one of her New Folk submissions—a paean to communication blessed by the open and personal revelation: ‘Love I am part heartache, part joyful child, I’m a grown up that’s still growing up.’
Accepted earthly perceptions are turned on their head in How Would It Be [*]—sic. ‘How would you feel if the ground was really the sky,’ the ensuing Red Light advocates openness to life’s magical moments, while Comes Back To Me [*] is launched by the confession: ‘I have a memory like a big fishing net, When things fall out I tend to forget.’
Written for, and about, her beloved grandmother, You Are Royalty To Me [*] poses the question: ‘How do you write a song for a queen?’ and subsequently affirms: ‘I am who I am, because I was loved by a queen.’ Right On Time [*] written during the late noughties for her daughter, is followed by Coffee Song [*] a humorous tribute to the musician’s helpless bean ‘n’ caffeine addiction, and disc one closes with the inspirational Wherever You Are [*] complete with audience participation.
Disc two opens with Blackbird [*] another avian world themed number, and doubling as a road song is followed on personal and universal levels by the tender Coming Home To You.
A ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ dharma inspired exploration of the human condition is undertaken in Tigers Above, Tigers Below, while Right Now [*] reveals initially ‘Nobody knows everything’ and moves on to bid the listener ‘live in the moment’ It’s followed by the lighthearted Let’s Go To Yoga, while in Who Am I the narrator seeks to define herself and her life. Co-written with partner Terri, the celebratory and self-explanatory penultimate song I Belong Here Next To You [*] ends the second set, and is followed by the encore Oak Tree.
CD Review: Wherever You Are (2013)