Little Piece of Heaven
The track, Little Piece of Heaven, is available via:
13th March, 2019
The album, Road I Call Home, is available here:
8th March, 2019
I realise I have included quite a few women...
PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Berger
in my review section and will definitely be bringing more men into things soon! The reason I have been featuring more women is because, largely, they are given less attention than the men. I will talk about Elles Bailey very soon but I wanted to talk about a few different things before then. I wanted to address Country music and whether there is gender equality; how the scene differs here from the U.S. I will also come on to investigate Bristol and why there are plenty of areas outside of London that warrant fondness; D.I.Y. artists and those who get to tour around the world; a bit about fusing genres and how that can lead to something incredible – I’ll end by talking a bit about Bailey and where she might head. Because my reviews are not your average cut-and-paste jobs you get from most sites, I might be repeating myself to an extent. That is why I choose a bigger artist to review on Saturdays: I can go in a different direction and it is easier to create a bigger review. That is nothing against the new breed but you tend to find less stark diversity and sonic invention than you will with those who are closer to the mainstream. The stories can be very similar and you find yourself struggling for words. In the case of Elles Bailey, there are some interesting new angles I can explore and work from. I have known about her music for a while now and have been following her. She plays Americana and Blues but, at its heart, I detect a great influence regarding Country. This is a genre I am keen to talk about more because it is not really as huge here than it is in the U.S. I will come to that soon enough but it seems, around the world, there is inequality when it comes to the genre. Look even at Blues and there is still that dominance by men. By that, I mean there are plenty of female artists but how many of them are being featured on the radio?
PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Hobson
In America, there is definitely a problem regarding women on the radio. Many stations feel that playing two women in a row will drive people away and it will turn people off. The fact that big artists like Kacey Musgraves and Carrie Underwood are famed and celebrated should, you think, give them a free pass and passage. It seems that there is that discrimination and feeling that men are more commercial and popular. Maybe it is not as rife here but look at the songs played on the radio in general and how often does one here Country music featuring? We do not really have any specialist stations and I feel, even when I hear Country, most of it is women being played. Artists like Elles Bailey look to Nashville and the scene there for inspiration. It is only natural that Country artists here look at the bigger U.S. scene and what is happening. If they see that radio stations are mostly playing men – despite the fact that there are a lot of great women playing – then that does not reflect well. We want to encourage a new breed of Country artists forward and I do worry a lot of women will feel the scene is against them. Bailey is not pure Country, I know, but she is someone who takes guidance from America and the best artists there. Even though there are these wonderful artists like Miranda Lambert, there is this dominance on U.S. radio when it comes to men. If anything, I feel women can bring more emotional diversity, texture and interest to Country than the men. They are not being represented fairly and that is something that bothers me. Look at Elles Bailey and she is certainly on a rise right now. She is getting her music played on the radio here but I wonder, if she ever moved to the U.S., whether life would be a bit harder. Those aspirations might be in sight so I do hope things change and there is more balance in years to come.
Like Country music in the U.S., a lot of the best artists here are melting in other genres. I have mentioned Kacey Musgraves and one can see Pop and Americana mixing alongside all sorts of sounds. Maren Morris is another big artist who is not beholden to a single sound and is taking Country in new directions. Whilst there is Nashville in the U.S. and a huge base for Country artists, we do not really have anything as grand in the U.K. Country music is no longer about Stetsons and naff music. Maybe there was this idea that, years ago, you had to play something a bit corny and it was all twang and no real substance. Now, in a modern age, Country has moved on. Big shows like Nashville have not only inspired American artists – the British have taken note and been compelled. We have stars like Catherine McGrath and Ward Thomas; a new wave coming through that is showing how broad the genres is. As this article from The Guardian last year showed, big festivals and mainstream artists are helping make Country more accessible and interesting:
“Midland are one of the acts performing at the Country 2 Country, a vast annual festival held simultaneously in London, Dublin and Glasgow over three days, celebrating a music genre that has gone from decidedly cringeworthy to undeniably cool in a few short years. The inaugural C2C, a one-day event held in London in 2013, sold 17,000 tickets: this weekend more than 80,000 people will descend on C2C, many of whom weren’t born when the 1992 Billy Ray Cyrus hit Achy Breaky Heart put a nail in the coffin of country music in the UK.
Former One Direction singer Niall Horan worked on his debut solo album with country artist Maren Morris, while Ed Sheeran’s work has been hugely shaped by the genre, and he’s written a track, Stay the Night, for the Shires’ new album, Accidentally on Purpose, out in April. Adele consistently cites Alison Krauss as a major influence, and has recorded a track by Chris Stapleton, who performed at last month’s Brit Awards alongside Justin Timberlake...
PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Berger
Rebecca Allen, president of Decca UK, Musgraves’s label, says: “The British love her because she is a maverick. She wasn’t frightened of the [country] old guard and stayed true to herself, and as a result appealed to the new guard of fans”.
Stars like Kacey Musgraves are giving British artists food for thought and it seems likes there is a growth in British artists over in America:
“It’s not just British fans who are growing in numbers: there’s a rise in UK country acts making waves, here and in the US. Crissie Rhodes, one half of homegrown act the Shires, said: “When Ben [Earle] and I first started making music together in 2013, there wasn’t much of a country scene in the UK; now it’s a massive community and still growing”.
Elles Bailey is one of the names who is bringing British Country to new lands and, one feels, takes a bit of influence from the U.S. newcomers and giants. On her new album, Road I Call Home, she has worked with hit-maker Roger Cook, Nashville giant Bobby Wood and Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys). That is a pretty impressive roster and, when you listen to the songs, there is so much happening. I do feel like there is a growth regarding Country music in the U.K. and we might soon challenge the U.S. I am not sure whether U.K. artists will get the same focus as the Country stars in the U.S. as we do not have the same popularity and options. I shall move on and look at other things because I am quite keen to look at a great song from Elles Bailey. Before I come to that, I want to look at areas outside of London that are worth checking out. Bristol is an area that has always produced great music and I feel more people need to keep their eyes trained there.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Berger
Not only is there that great history of Trip-Hip music and artists like Massive Attack but you have greats like Portishead and The Cortinas. IDLES are part of the new breed that are putting Bristol back on the map and, from everything I have heard, it is a wonderful city to be based in. I am seeing venues close in London and it is quite hard to predict how sustainable it might be for some artists to remain here in years to come. Great sites are closing and there are more and more people coming along. It seems like the musicians-to-venue-ratio is quite high but one wonders how easy it is to get attention and stand aside. Bristol seems to be freer regarding the crowds and there is great variation to be found. Spaces like Colston Hall, Thekla and The Exchange provide spaces for new artists but I feel, with new acts like Elles Bailey and IDLES adding to the city’s history, whether there are plans for development and expansion. So many artists I know love playing in Bristol and always love going there. The city itself is magnificent and provides so much interest and warmth. I would like to see more venues coming in so that the best musicians there are not tempted to come to London. Bristol is a great space for musicians and there is so happening. In terms of genres, it is not confined and limited: one can experience clubs that cater for Trip-Hop lovers and there are venues that host Pop, Folk and Country. It is a very vibrant scene and one that is always growing. I do hope there is more investment in Bristol and we will see a raft of great new artists come from the city. I hope Elles Bailey has no immediate plans to move because she seems to be comfortable right now and, listening to her music, picking up different colours and genres with it. It is the way she splices together different sounds that fascinates me and makes her stand out.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Berger
Bailey is someone who is inspired by American music and the Country scene but there is Blues and American involved. Americana and Country are different. The former is a collection of shared traditions and sounds that define America. It is not purely Country and can bring in Folk and Blues. There are Blues touches to Bailey’s music and she has that Country skin. It all comes together wonderfully and you get this very rich and rewarding blend. I will finish by talking about Bailey’s D.I.Y. approach and her touring but I do like the way she mixes together genres and takes her music in different directions. If you listen to songs on Road I Call Home, there is plenty of stomp, swagger and Blues funkiness alongside something more tender and introspective. One can hear America in her bones but Bailey is keen not to be limited and too beholden to one sound. Throughout the album, we get this very eclectic selection that gives the songs such weight and fascination. I do think that a lot of artists are not being daring when it comes to unifying different genres and taking chances. Although there are more British artists looking at Americana and Country, I still feel like there is an over-reliance on other genres such as Pop. Growing stars like Elles Bailey have shown what can happen when you sprinkle all these different avenues together. She has created this very personal and appealing brew that not only makes her music strong but gets you interested in different genres. I feel Blues has changed through the decades and there are not that many artists keeping it alive. The same can be said for Americana. We do not have that many British artists playing Americana and looking at that genre. I do feel like Elles Bailey and her peers are trailblazers in that sense because, in a homogenised scene, we need artists who are bolder and more innovator. I think things are okay in modern music but it would be good to see the mainstream a bit more varied and not just rely on what we hear right now.
Elles Bailey is someone who has her own dynamic but she is always growing and looking to strengthen what she does. Her fanbase is growing and I know she has one eye on the U.S. Right now, there is every possibility she could be a big name there which makes me wonder whether she will move there soon enough. That is a big decision but, right now, Bailey is enjoying touring and making music. It is her D.I.Y. approach and determination that impresses me. She is always promoting herself and gigging around the world. Whereas a lot of artists are not too active on social media, she is always putting her music out there and looking for gigs. What is amazing is the sheer tenacity and determination of Bailey. There is no stopping her and you get this feeling that music is everything to her. Even though she has collaborators when it comes to putting her music together, there is not this huge army regarding promotion and bookings. Bailey is the one who connects with fans online and gets her music out there. Many big artists have teams pushing their stuff around the world but Bailey takes care of business and, as such, seems like a much more personable and accessible artist. It is no surprise that her music has connected with the masses and her streaming figures are huge. That is not usually an area that bothers me – I look for quality rather than big figures – but Bailey is someone who deserves every single streaming figure. She keeps working relentlessly and this is translating into success and plaudits. I alluded to the fact Bailey might look to the U.S. very soon and her fan numbers are growing there. It would not be a huge leap of faith to assume that she would want more celebration there so I will keep my eyes open. At the moment, she has tour dates around the U.K. and will be busy as we head through spring.
PHOTO CREDIT: Cam McMillan
It is actually Elles Bailey’s birthday – I hope this review is a nice addition! – and she has been reflecting on the touring she has done. It is clear that Bailey wants to connect with people around the world and very proud of what she is putting out into the world. Road I Call Home is a terrific album that will appeal to those who love Country and Americana but there are great Blues and Rock moments to be found. It is a great album that is easy to love and one will find songs they fall for easily. I want to look at Little Piece of Heaven because it is new and a great little slice of Road I Call Home. When thinking about Bailey and what makes her stand out, it is a combination of everything. She has that boldness when it comes to genres and sounds and, when you hear her sing, every note rings with conviction and passion. I love her delivery style and how she manages to bring you into her heart. There are few songwriters who have that sort of power but, with Bailey, she does that easily. Her songs have her own stamp on them but each one is quite different and explores new ground. Because of that, you are invested throughout and her music has that broader appeal. I have mentioned how there is sexism in American Country radio but I feel there is this British explosion that can remain where they are and make their way onto the bigger stations. Bailey has a great foundation here but she is respected around the world. It is her determination and spirit that keeps her moving; brilliant songs that are connecting with people and that mutual love. I am keen to move onto her new track and show you why she is such a strong and promising artist. This year has already been busy and eventful and, with Little Piece of Heaven out, proof she is among our strongest and most promising artists.
There is a discernible strut and movement when you listen to Little Piece of Heaven. The guitars scratch and strum as the song whips up its own storm and brings sunshine. Our heroine is at the microphone and her soulful and impassioned voice shines through. One reason why I love artists such as Elles Bailey and her peers is because you get something soulful and big. Many Pop artists have very limited voices and they can seem rather empty and vacant. In the case of Bailey, there is so much strength and shiver when you hear her sing. She apologies to her sweetheart for making him feel that way. It appears that there have been some issues in the past or the two have not always seen eye to eye. There is a bit of mystery regarding the opening of the song and where the lovers stand. It seems that Bailey was looking for companionship and someone to hold onto. She never meant to push him away and the two have gone through a bit of tension. Love, she says, is complex and never can be predicted. Even though, as I said, there is something quite revealing coming out, the song is never morbid at all. Bailey investigates her place and situation but never dowses it in whiskey and gasoline. She is trying to piece things together and, as the song’s title suggests, things are not all bad. I instantly looked at the title itself – Little Piece of Heaven – and was expecting a distinct sound and narrative. Instead, the heroine is fighting against these tides and forces. She does not care what people say and is keen to keep her sweetheart by her side. I get the view that people might try and split them up and there are some disapproving tongues. Bailey apologises for being very casual and like she is not invested but she is deeply passionate about the relationship. The lyrics are very clear and understandable and, rather than hide her feelings behind obfuscation and obliqueness, we get these very striking and stirring sentiments.
I am not sure why others are willing to see bad sides but the two will not be broken. The love Bailey receives is her Heaven and she is not going to let that get away! Maybe it is the case that some think the man is not right for her but, as one looks at the song’s video, they seem like a great fit – he is not someone you’d associate with trouble and strife. It is interesting to guess who the man might be in the song and whether the two are still involved. Bailey pours her heart out and knows that life is not as simple as it should be. The composition keeps quite simple and unobtrusive and you get this nice combination of Country and Blues. One can hear Country themes in the lyrics – the lovers who fight against separation; the guitar definitely has a Country vibe – with the sophistication and soul of Blues. It is an intoxicating cocktail and one that gets right into the blood. Even the most casual of listeners will be interested to see where the song goes and how the two work out. I cannot figure why their relationship is facing tests and what has happened – I guess that is part of the mystery! There is a lot of hokum theory (fate and destiny bringing them together: no such thing, you see) and some tenderhearted compassion and romance. It seems like the two are a great fit so it makes me worried as to the prognosis of the relationship. They are strong against the wind but having to fight this suppression. I do like the strength in Bailey’s words and how she is not going to let the negativity get to her. It is her voice that really captures me at every stage. It is so full of life and passion; one cannot ignore the wonder arriving from Bailey. She is one of these singers that can take you off your feet and make every song shine and explode. There is a lot of spirit and uplift to be found in Little Piece of Heaven. Bailey is seduced by this love and she is never going to let anyone break them down. In a music scene where there is still too much negativity and anger, it is good to hear an artist who has that faith and keeps their eyes focused.
Touring continues for Elles Bailey as we head through March. She heads to Bridgwater on 21st and makes her way back to Bristol; then down to Southampton and Horsham before coming up to Bath and back down to Bournemouth. In terms of itinerary, it is quite up-and-down – she moves in different directions rather than a straight line – but it will give her a chance to see new places and faces. The travel will be quite brutal and exhausting but the rush she gets from the stage is hard to fault. At the moment, she is playing a lot of smaller/medium-sized venues but it cannot be too long before she is commanding the bigger stages. Her numbers continue to rise and her music is being featured on radio. There are not that many artists like Elles Bailey in the U.K. and I know she will be a big name very soon. What amazes me about her is how she manages to craft this very personal and unusual sound that is completely fresh yet strikes a note of familiarity. Her music is busy and bold and it takes you to wonderful places. Her songwriting is wonderful and she is not an artist who deals with a lot of clichés and tropes. Instead, you get a true storyteller and performer who is puts all her emotion and soul into the music. Bailey is tirelessly promoting her music and eager to play where she can. I do hope she gets time to recharge – especially today of all days! – and has some moments to unwind. With a new album out, there is that demand but it also means she can, when touring ends, look at her next moves. I speculated about America and I do wonder whether that is in her sights. She would fit in very well and there is a place for at multiple venues. Her live sets are lauded and that sort of confidence will easily translate to the U.S. market. Let us see what she has planned and what is in mind for the rest of this year. I am troubled by the fact certain genres are not as receptive to women as others. Maybe things will change but progress I stubborn and slow. With great artists such as Elles Bailey shining, stations must take notice and change their ways. I shall leave things here and let you get about your day but I would urge people to seek out Elles Bailey – one of our best young artists right now. The Bristol-based musician is already making big moves in 2019 and she will not want to let up anytime soon! Listen to Road I Call Home and I guarantee there will be something in there for everybody! I have featured her latest single because it struck my ear hardest and there is a video out there right now. As she takes a breather on her birthday and enjoys the spoils of the day, Elles Bailey can be proud of everything she has achieved and look forward to…
A very bright future.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Berger
UNCREDITED PHOTOS (every effort has been made to find the photographer credit):