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Kate Ellis - Carve Me Out (River Rose Records)
Listening to the songs of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-born, now London-based, singer songwriter Kate Ellis, reminds me of first hearing Nanci Griffith at the outset of the so-called New Country scene back in the mid-1980s, a time when country music became relevant once again after a period of rhinestone encrusted miasma. Raised in New York to an American father and English mother, the young Kate Ellis was exposed to folk music at an early age, with grandmothers on both sides also being musicians. Leaving a career in law aside, Ellis has returned to that music with her formative influences intact, from Johnny Cash and Pete Seeger to Gram Parsons and Leonard Cohen, with her own father as a closer to home inspiration, he having once performed with the legendary Hank Williams.
Kate's voice is the main focus here, lifted by mature songs and strong arrangements. The standout song, Ones You Love the Most, is up there with the very best of the genre, both in the writing and the delivery, whilst songs such as Paper, Scissors, Rock and Inside demonstrate the work of a mature songwriter. Going Against the Grain is also a fine example of her collaborative aptitude, with a fine duet with co-writer Andy Hobsbawm.