Elles Bailey “Ain’t Nothing But”

Outlaw Music, 2020

Elles Bailey shines a light on her blues roots with her own take on some classic songs

Elles Bailey, a singer-songwriter from Bristol, has released ‘Ain’t Nothing But’ a collection of songs which are presented as “stripped back & bare to the bone”.  ‘Ain’t Nothing But’ is a compilation of two of the three live shows which Bailey recorded at White Noise Studios earlier this year. The unedited album consists of songs from three different shows which focussed on her musical roots and songs that have inspired her. Like many other musicians, Bailey took part in live stream shows and tried to find ways to connect with her fans, and in the end, deciding to record ‘Ain’t Nothing But’ in a safe space.

‘I Remember Everything’ a John Prine cover opens with what feels like a plaintive call to simpler times, Bailey’s vocals clear and clean to a bluesy backing track. Bailey has a wonderful country-blues tone throughout the album. There is some similarity to the first Cowboy Junkies album ‘Whites Off Earth Now‘ using blues as a base to recreate songs by other artists in her own style.  Bailey and her band have developed an understanding of each other’s strengths and demonstrate the value of a solid history of touring on their own and playing with other musicians.

Bailey provides a solid interpretation of the haunting Leadbelly song ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ which feels dark and stark in all of the right places. The Tom Waits’ cover ‘Way Down in the Hole’ was the title song from the TV series ‘The Wire’ and used five different musicians for each of the five series. If they decided to return to make a sixth series they could happily use her version of the song as it matches the grit of the previous cover versions used.  Bailey closes the album with the Bo Diddley song ‘You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover’ taking us via his recognizable riffs and her band’s solos to the Deep South of America.

Bailey has rightfully been acclaimed within the music industry for her music – winning awards and recognition for her first two releases. She like many other musicians seems to be itching to hit the road and play in front of old and new fans (of which I would now count myself) and has some scheduled tour dates in 2021 all being well in the world.

7/10
7/10

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