If herohill had any influence and wasn’t comprised of readers that only unite on their hatred of Robin Williams, I’d start a label just to press and put out Kris Ellestad‘s work. Hopefully in the next few months, a label will take a risk and agree to put out No Man is Land for the masses. I guess for now all you need to know is that it’s as captivating a record as I’ve heard all year; one that could choke Pete Campbell with it’s ambition.
Somehow Ellestad ties together Antony Hegarty meets Taylor Kirk vocals with a delightful mix of beautiful orchestral arrangements, straightforward piano ballads and off-kilter folky blues riffs. Those styles are probably not a combination you’d expect to work and at a whopping 15-songs, it’s almost impossible to think this Calgary artist can keep today’s listener engaged and avoid pitfalls. Remarkably he does. With moments of driving percussion (“Sorry Booin’”), hand-clap heavy, foot stomping, slow burning sing-alongs (“The Secret”) and a tenderness as genuine as you will hear on record, the constant shift of emotion and style not only piques your interest, it commands it.
Shaking free from the shackles of style or descriptors, Ellestad lets creativity drive this project. The static beat and folky strums of “Frame House” shouldn’t be able to stand next to the swanky “In the Meantime” or the touching piano ballad that follows, but Kris holds everything together perfectly. I know that in today’s blogging vernacular, perfect is often a substitute for “good” but No Man is Land is a record I listened to without expectations and was won over instantly. In fact, I’ve been having trouble turning it off, feeling a connection to the artist - something that seems fleeting as we become more obsessed with discovering music that satisfies our needs to multitask - one I wish every music lover could enjoy. Hopefully, someday soon that will be the case.
Kris is offering up a few MP3s and letting people stream No Man is Land on his bandcamp site. Obviously, we highly recommend both of these songs, but do yourself a favor and listen to “November Steppes.” Could be my favorite song of the year.
MP3:: Kris Ellestad - In the Meantime