Elles Bailey: Shining in the Half Light

Shining in the Half Light is Elles Bailey’s third studio album since 2017 (not counting sessions album Blacktop Companion (2019) and covers album Ain’t Nothing But (2020)), but her first recorded in England (Middle Farm Studios, Devon and other locations in the UK). Made in the middle of lockdown in December 2020 when Bailey was six months pregnant, tracking was completed just weeks before Bailey gave birth to her first child and on the day itself she was reviewing the album mixes in the hospital waiting room.

Bailey has been described as a ”smoky voiced human dynamo”. She has a hectic touring schedule and ferocious work ethic. Bailey had about 40 songs in mind in lead up the album, and she whittled these down with producer Dan Weller (Enter Shikari) in the studio.

Shining in the Half Light was co-written with a variety of collaborators; three tracks with Ash Tucker and Will Edmunds, who also wrote with Bailey for Road I Call Home (2019), and one song with each of Joe Wilkins (her longtime guitarist), Martin Harley, Matt Owens (Noah and the Whale), Alex Maile, Tamara Stewart, Craig Lackey and Brett Boyett. Despite the number of writers, the album has a consistent feel.

Bailey is undoubtedly her own person (“dancing to the beat of her own blues” as she sings in the catchy “The Game”), but if comparisons are required, she’s something like a British Bonnie Raitt, and Shining in the Half Light a blues-rock crossover. The album is most distinctive though due to its side-helping of gospel; “Different Kind Of Love”, “Who’s That” and “Halfway House” all have gospel style vocals arranged by Jalapeno Records blues artist Izo Fitzroy, who also performs on the album with Jade Elliot and Andrusilla Mosley.

The album title, Shining in the Half Light, comes from the closing song of the same name, and was inspired by the musicians, poets, artists who “who spread love in a time of heartbreak, happiness in a time of fear and connection in a time of loneliness”. The song is a slow groove extolling the virtues of life in person, not through a “cold black screen” (although the song was written with Lackey over Zoom). Bailey is more defiant on “Cheats and Liars”, written in response to those who undervalued the arts in times of crisis; the strong vocal is well matched with a dark and murky riff.

Many of the songs on the album have immediate appeal. The philosophical “Riding out the Storm” has a charming and soulful melody, “Sunshine City” is peppy blue rock; “Stones” is a tough and gritty warning; “Colours Start to Run” is a laid-back take on life’s complexities.

Bailey is joined on the album by Joe Wilkins (guitar), Jonny Henderson (piano), Matthew Waer (bass) and Matthew Jones (drums); together they deliver an impressive sound. “Cheats & Liars”, “Sunshine City” and “The Game” have collectively spent 11 weeks at the top of the UK Airplay charts, and the album delivers on the strength of these three singles, reaching number one in the UK official blues chart, number two in the Americana chart and number four in the independent chart. With its memorable hooks and great performances, Shining in the Half Light rightly deserves its success.

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Label: Outlaw Music
Release Date: 25 FEB 2022