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NICK ELLIS

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  • Cousin Jac
Scandinavian Church 12/11/16

It’s warm on the top floor of the Gustav Adolfs Kyrka, the pointiest octagon in town, and the space is lit with candles and soft rainbows as Jes Wing from COUSIN JAC takes to his little electric piano and sings us a selection of his songs – a far cry from his show in this room last March with a 10-piece band (“Madness,” he tells us, but there were only seven of them), but his piano playing is full and rich enough to support itself, to say nothing of his voice, perfectly suited to intimate venues. “The ocean’s spirit is inside and over me,” he confesses in Raised By The Sea (Wing hails from St Ives), its double meaning multiplied further by being sung in this dockside refuge. The Irish Sea feels very near indeed, not for the first time tonight.

NICK ELLIS is an old-school troubadour, right and proper, telling all our experiences in song and with utter conviction. His reputation for guitar wizardry and solid Merseyside songwriting precedes him, but that can’t lessen the impact of his live presence. This is the launch party for Ellis’ first full-length album, Daylight Ghosts, and it feels like a party with family, friends, fans, and Mellowtone regulars packing the pews. Set (and album) opener The Grand Illusion begins with one everlasting chord, and nobody fingerpicks one everlasting chord quite like Nick Ellis. When he does start to sing, the sheer vocabulary of his lyric is astounding, unleashing a Subterranean Homesick Blues’ worth of words.

Hearing Lovers In July live, it seems to have genuine weltschmerz which, though not a guarantee of ‘classic songwriter’ status in itself, is the same heartache found in Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, or Bert Jansch. Nick Ellis himself is down to earth, clearly still reeling from having an album out: “Getting it out of the box on Wednesday, it feels like it’s gone, handed over, the end of something.” For him, perhaps, but it’s good for the rest of us to hear the pagan instrumental Dance Of The Cat and St. David’s Day feeling like they belong to a set of songs, the beginning of an oeuvre. Perhaps it’s just the venue, but the smoky accompaniment to Carillion has the grain of Norwegian Wood, swaying gently around his guitar’s lower register. “I,” he cries “had a wonderful dream last night”, and so might most of tonight’s audience.

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