‘All The Crooked Scenes’ is the debut album from Ellen And The Escapades. A simple no frills record, the Leeds based alt folk foursome present us with a pretty mixed bag here. There are moments of unmistakable, folk joy squeezed in with country tinged monotony.
Run, is a laid back start, with a subdued folk feel. Ellen’s gentle, unassuming vocals while initially pleasant lack any distinct edge. In all it’s a meek, KT Tunstall-esque first impression. Without You is catchier, commencing with an attention grabbing harmonica. There’s more of an attitude to Ellen’s vocals here, it’s a stark improvement and probably should be the first track on the album. It’s moments like this the band really need to capitalise on.
This Ace I’ve Burned doesn’t venture too far from the band’s obvious comfort zone, there’s little here to get excited about. It’s akin to music you might stumble across in a dental reception. Meanwhile, I’ll Keep You Warm strikes a more melancholy note. The sombre tone actually makes for a refreshing highlight; the drums adding a much needed depth to the band’s sound.
The title track is not the climax you might expect, it maintains the now well established country vibe. It should serve as the prime example of what the band can do but it falls short of this standard, proving more of a slow trawl. Nevertheless Can’t Make It So is promisingly different, it stands out against the solid backdrop of folk, indeed, it’s the first we see of the band attempting to veer away from these roots.
Elsewhere Preying On Your Mind sees Ellen joined on vocal duties alongside more varied guitar and there’s definitely more to sink your teeth into here, it’s a clear upturn at the close of the album. Final track, Cast, is edgy and distinctive. It’s an impressive end and leaves you wishing there were more moments like this.
It’s a promising first attempt from the Leeds quartet but it lacks what’s needed to hold your attention from start to finish. There are times when it all gets too samey but it’s worth sticking with for the unique folk frolickings of Without You, I’ll Keep You Warm and Can’t Make It So. Ellen And The Escapades are definitely on the right track, watch this space.