Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

ELLEN WHYTE

FOUR WAY STOP

2009-04-01

On her fourth disc, Portland, Oregon based multi-instrumentalist (guitar, accordion, percussion) and vocalist Ellen Whyte unleashes 11 original cuts that explore remorse, fear, love and strength. Joined by the ESP Horns (Renato Caranto, Pete Petersen, Greg Garrett and Mike Kelly) and a large band Garry Meziere and Dave Mullany on guitars, Gene Houck on bass, Jean-Pierre Garau on organ, clavinet and piano and Reinhardt Melz on drums, Whyte delivers insightful, thought-provoking lyrics against a broad musical palette. There’s everything from dark rootsy rockers reminiscent of Eagle Glenn Frey’s solo work, "No One Knows Better Than Me", to upbeat soul on the title cut to spare ballads, "Last to Know", Tower of Power style funky horn grooves, "Thanks for the Ride", and straight up rock, "Falling". Whyte matches the band’s ample hooks with lyrical hooks that dig deep. While she mines the normal blues vein of heartache, despair and working under the thumb of the man, she does so without resorting to the tired clichés we’ve heard way too many times. On "Over My Shoulder" an errant lover is admonished that “you’re doing too much thinking/you ain’t got enough time to feel” as she relegates him to the scrap heap. "Jack & Jokers" not only rocks, but is a timely call to action against the havoc wrecked by “Men in fine suits/suiting just themselves.” "When You Walk Away From Love" is a tender ballad about making the right choices in love and making sure the “when you walk away from love/Just remember… move slow/Take a look around you/you will miss it when you go.” These pointed lyrics get delivered by Whyte with a voice of incredible depth ranging from the sophisticated jazz stylings of Nina Simone on "Last to Know" to the husky swagger of rockabilly queen Rosie Flores on the upbeat number about finding love, "Lucky in Love", to the sly sexiness of Maria Muldaur on the seductive, "Wide Awake Woman". Overall, a fine release that deserves plenty of attention. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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