Ellen Froese’s self-titled record is for lovers: current lovers, former lovers, wistful or spiteful lovers. Her wry songs are about love and relationships and are often directed at someone(s) but sometimes they are songs about self-love: “You’re the reason why I lost all joy for life but I’m so happy now,” she sings on album opener “New Years,” fireworks lighting up her grinning face.
Froese sounds like she grew up listening to folk and country legends which I think must actually be true because this record includes covers of songs by Bert Jansch, Hank Williams, Blaze Foley and more. To use my description of Froese’s voice from another post, it is a timeless “enchanting warble” – “In Our Time of Dyin'” sounds like it could be broadcasted out of one of these radios – that’s nicely paired with the soft plucks of her guitar.
Sometimes I think Froese must have written these songs three drinks in but some songs make me think that they came out during a head-clearing drive in a 1979 chevy truck somewhere along some country roads. The aforementioned “New Years” find Froese with a clearer outlook and the track embodies that feeling when the clock strikes midnight and your life has been reset. On the brilliant “I Wish I Had A Foot-Long Cigarette,” her unwavering confidence burns like the tip of that extended cigarette. On “Life Oh Life,” she gives us an honest look at her life and being a musician – “if my mother knew the things I found I love to do, she’d faint right there and then but ma, it helps me guide this pen” – for another roving album highlight.
Froese ends her record with three live recordings of covers. She is playful and laughs with the audience. What’s particularly impressive is the fact that she sounds just as charming on these live takes as she does on her other songs. Ellen Froese is the real deal.
Top Tracks: “New Years”; “I Wish I Had A Foot-Long Cigarette”; “Life Oh Life”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)