Lying Awake

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Ellery are a duo comprised of the husband-and-wife team of Justin and Tasha Golden. And "golden" is also a good way to describe the couple's radiant folk-pop. Tasha, who handles the lead vocals, sings with an inviting warmth that falls somewhere between Natalie Merchant and Sixpence None the Richer's Leigh Nash. In her whispery way, she projects a delicate but not overly fragile quality that nestles in nicely with the band's graceful, airy music. Her keyboard playing combines with Justin's guitar work to form their musical foundation, and then they add loops, percussion, bass, and drum to create a nice dynamic to their songs. By fleshing out their basic coffeehouse music in this manner, they create some welcome textural diversity to their otherwise subdued sound. The opening track, "Anna," serves as an excellent example of their craftsmanship. The song starts with Tasha singing over some lightly played piano and guitar, but it gradually builds into lush folk-pop with her voice fully expressing her yearning for the title character to "hang on." Sometimes the band reigns in its demure sound too much and, around midway through the disc, the music becomes a bit too quiet and fails to fully engage the listener. The album picks up some steam on its last couple songs. "Inside My Head," rather than being tranquilly introspective, works up a nice groove courtesy of the percussion work and Amos Heller's bass. "You'll Get Through It," like "Anna," is a song of reassurance that builds powerfully into a thoroughly compelling tune. The album closer, "It's Alright," is a haunting, spare number that showcases Tasha's soulful vocals. This Cincinnati-based twosome's first full-length may be a low-key offering, but it nonetheless turns out to be an alluring charmer of a debut.

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