Los Angeles doesn’t have too many folk acts coming around these days, but L.A. native George Ellias appears to want to be the exception. Why, you ask? It’s hard to say. Folk can be troubled waters to tread since the wealth of that genre has always relied on underground sensibilities, retained to giving the average listener a second thought. It’s not entirely something attainable in a city like Los Angeles where rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers and Silversun Pickups have a huge following.
But to George Ellias, folk is here to stay. It’s understandable, too, that this notion Ellias charges at us with is very much the vision of an artist well-deep into his influences. That isn’t to say he’s purely imitating, but rather he is providing the music we once loved, a kind of nostalgia that seems to be recurring throughout current popular music such as 70’s soul punchers Fitz and The Tantrums (an L.A. act, no less). Perhaps that is key to the possible success of his niche and, of course, timing. Timing is everything.
We get his first foray into the music world with his self-titled EP, which does a pretty good job of giving us a glimpse into certain possibilities of ol’ folk. Reinvigorating the days of Bob Dylan with spot-on lyrical playfulness and guitar-picking intricacy, he’s able to withstand that sound without being generic. Lyrically, he benefits from relying on messages that spark the same kind of interests of Dylan’s followers and possibly even today’s listeners. The song “Ghost Town” insinuates the lost lifestyles of old, which is perhaps a summation of what folk is all about in the first place. Kudos to that.
The rest of the EP steers its course in a similar vein, even if they play off as more of a showcase than a concept. We get the somber “A Farewell Song” and we get a lively “Stand Ashore,” and we get these tracks as merely accepting Ellias’ talents. If that is the thread that defines the EP, it can appear somewhat flat, but this reviewer is willing to find that his pros outweigh this small issue.
The EP mostly stays in tune for its seven tracks (six if you don’t include the outtake of “Wonder Babe”), varying in terms of “quality.” Songs like “Stand Ashore” and “Take My Advice” have a more “produced” approach, while songs like “Wonder Babe” and “A Farewell Song” are of lower fidelity. Either way, the use of reverb gives each song a very live, acoustic feel, and his track placement is finely interweaved as to not make the overall sound become counterbalanced.
Ellias gives a fine number of songs to link us to fonder days. As this is only his first EP, one can only imagine what his full-length will consist of, but this EP provides us with enough optimism. Each song brings us closer to classic folk, and whether or not that is Ellias’ prerogative, he’s managed to make us feel good about it.
Check out the song and music video for “Ghost Town” to your left, and if you like what you hear, make sure to visit Amazon, iTunes, or George Ellias’ Bandcamp webpage.