Thomas Eltorp “Extended Play 3/3” (Mani Records, 2020)

Danish singer-songwriter Thomas Eltorp set himself a lofty goal five years ago: to write, record, and release three EPs of “American inspired music”. ‘Extended Play 3/3’ is the last of these three Americana inspired EPs, which – unlike its previous counterparts – consists of songs performed live in-studio in a single take; no do-overs or re-recording allowed.

The feat of live recording is most impressive on the opener, ‘The Best is Yet to Come’. It opens with layers of gentle piano and sweeping strings. Eltorp’s natural vocal tremble adds a great deal of character to a song about finding love and settling down (“Oh my friends where are we now / The circle has been drawn / Seems by now my travelling is done”). The end of the track sees Eltorp repeat a mantra of reassurance with, “The best is yet to come”.

‘One of These Days’ takes us away from the rich strings and piano, replacing them with a darker and mellower funky blues sound. “Hold your tongue / Pull your stare / Be real kind if it’s not too late / There’s an old sign saying have no fear / There’s a showdown and the end is near,” we’re warned at the start of the track. There’s a real Nick Cave feel to this one too, so much so you expect that instantly recognisable baritone to start at any moment.

‘Glory’ again channels blues influences, but this time they have a decidedly rockier edge to them. The lyrics talk of living to excess but not finding what he hoped from it (“These are the best years wasted / Come on down everybody’s dancing”). ‘Tokio Town’ is the final track, and it strikes more of an adult contemporary vibe, belying the lyrics of a dark past: “Way out of town / Hounds on my tail / Looking for answers to take this weight off my shoulders / I stand there in line / My easy heartbeat is way out of time / I got lost in the city / What can I say / I blew my money the old fashioned way”.

These four tracks are well crafted and recorded songs, made even more impressive upon knowledge of exactly how they were laid down. This EP too neatly bookends the two previous under the same collection (naturally titled ‘Extended Play 1/3’ and ‘Extended Play 2/3’); although there’s an added element of raw and sometimes breathy emotion captured in Eltorp’s voice here that’s sometimes lost at times in the previous studio produced tracks.

In the film world, the third movie in a trilogy is often known to be the most disappointing, but thankfully that maxim doesn’t seem to have carried over into the musical world, at least not here. Anyone starting with this EP could do a lot worse than to work their way back through the second two, even if they don’t quite have the charm of the third in its single take recorded glory.

The strongest offering from an interesting trio of EPs that showcase a love of Americana
7/10

Author: Helen Jones

North West based lover of country and Americana.

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