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Not shy about his classic rock roots, singer-songwriter Damon Mitchell has returned with a new EP titled Elise. Mitchell cites mid-60s Beatles, Neil Young, Steely Dan, and other radio rock giants of the era as prime influences on his new offering, though the incorporation of modern elements makes for a captivating infusion.
Mitchell hails from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he operates as an indie musician. Accordingly, he has a healthy list of contacts and was able to call on 11 individuals to assist with the record. Overall, their efforts deliver despite occasional hiccups. According to Mitchell:
“…music has power. It is an act of creation. It is a language. Music is a conduit to something bigger than ourselves; something far beyond us. It is a conduit, and yet is simply how we tell our stories.”
Kicking off with the sugary pop-rocker, ‘Heist’, the classic influences are unmistakable. Harmonised doo-wop vocals and bass and piano chords stroll in tandem. The soft rock hooks are unshakeable after just one listen, setting an endearing tone for what’s to come.
‘Just a Face’ quivers with tremolo-based guitar melodies and organ-powered songwriting, anchoring us in the glory days of the 60s once more. The lush backing vocals and theatrical chord progressions bring up strong McCartney vibes.
Problems form with the country detour on ‘Licence Plate’. This track is rife with cheesy, twangy accents, harmonica breaks, and generic lyrics concerning heartbreak. As a result, it all amounts to a rather bland dish of Americana. Nonetheless, the nifty fiddle work is somewhat redemptive.
Slowing things down with whispery, melancholic vocals and delicate dashes of piano is a ballad titled ‘Salo’. The accompanying guitar/bass/drums generally maintain an alternating smooth and discordant undercurrent, acting as the ideal foil to Mitchell’s intimate, confessional performance. Interspersed accents from the guitar add slickness and beauty to what is probably an EP highlight.
Continuing the 70s vibe of the previous track is ‘World in Her Eyes’, a downtempo jazzy/lounge affair with an excellent brass solo and vibrant percussion contributions. Mellow, groovy vocals with stellar harmonies from Mitchell take it to the next level.
The title track ‘Elise’ wraps up Mitchell’s effort on a high. Gritty, reverb-laden guitars meet rolling bass lines and lively drumming to create a highway rock throwback. Some tremendous lead lines grace the middle section before chaos ensues, embodying an almighty finale.
Mitchell’s clever use of instrumentation, imaginative songwriting, and rich melodic senses make for a heady mix on Elise. With this in mind, anyone partial to the golden era of rock should consider listening.