An acoustic guitar delivers a heavenly opening salvo of string play as we enter “Ease Up (Into Love),” the new single from singer/songwriter Jay Elle, but despite the seemingly unbeatable tone of these first few bars in the track, they give us only a small glimpse into what the next couple of minutes will offer all who are listening to this sensational cut off of Elle’s new EP of the same title. The vocals are as soft as velvet, the guitars steeped in a golden melodicism that is hard to forget and impossible to ignore whenever it fills the air around us, and when all of the components are working in perfect tandem, they create an evocative energy that is simply contagious, no matter how many times we’ve encountered it. Throughout the whole of his all-new extended play, Jay Elle exhibits his sound at its most mature and physically robust to date, fuses mild country twang with supple soul serenades and a conventional pop songwriting aesthetic, and dishes out tracks that warrant repeat listens right out of the box.
This is definitely one of the more diversely appointed EPs that I’ve listened to in a while, but to be truthful, critics should come to expect as much from Elle, whose influences are quite expansive and, to some, contradictory. “Take a Holiday” has the bones of a traditional country song, but the vocal attack that our star employs here has more in common with an adult contemporary sound than it does anything currently operating out of Nashville or Bakersfield. “Sickly Sweet” borrows a flowing acoustic guitar melody from early 80’s John Denver (think Some Days Are Diamonds, Some Days Are Stone) and punctuates the more timid moments in the build up to the chorus with a volley of bass tones that balance everything out exceptionally well. There’s a balladic rock feel to both “By the Blade” and “Needs Fixing,” and were the same blues elements from these two songs put into the title track, Ease Up (Into Love) would essentially be a rock record with a sterling country/folk bend. Jay Elle strikes me as a guy who hates labels, and that alone makes his new record a fun listen for the more eclectic listeners among us (myself included).
I hadn’t heard very much of his work before now, but I’m quite intrigued by what Elle has put together for us in Ease Up (Into Love) and definitely plan on following his future output from here on out. He’s got a warmth to his singing style that complements the phenomenal fretwork he brings to every composition on this EP brilliantly, and if he’s able to develop his technique just a bit more than he already has here in his forthcoming material, I’m rather certain that mainstream success will find him a lot sooner than later. Only time will tell for sure, but as of this moment, there’s nothing in this extended play to suggest that Jay Elle’s reputation will grow anything but stronger as he looks toward the 2020s and beyond.