Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue
Brightest Blue, Ellie Goulding’s first new release in five years – though a good measure of that time was spent on tour – delivers a much-needed injection of energy, balancing a number of more thoughtful, introspective tunes – enough to ensure a good depth to the record – with perfectly-matched collaborations and chart-friendly singles.
It opens with the haunting Start, an almost stream-of-consciousness exercise, blurring the lines between speaking to oneself and speaking to someone else. The earliest half of this two-part record – it is divided between the Brightest Blue disc and the features-packed EG.0 – provides the most secure mark of Goulding’s progress and skill as an artist. The complex, layered arrangements that frame tracks like Power and Tides can’t quite diminish the evident strength and flexibility of Goulding’s vocals, which fulfil their promise on New Heights alongside gorgeous strings contributed by Patrick Wimberley (formerly of Chairlift). This section of the record is punctuated by a number of near-fragments of tracks, among them Cyan, Wine Drunk and Overture, whose inclusion is a masterstroke. The sense of being slightly unfinished, or underproduced, adds some variety to the record and accentuates the self-aware vulnerability that permeates its lyrics.
Stand-outs from EG.0 include the single Worry About Me, an upbeat and meticulously constructed track that showcases Goulding’s voice but benefits most significantly from Blackbear’s contribution. Similarly, Hate Me, on which Goulding shares vocal credits with Juice Wrld, delivers energy, catchy melodies and uncomplicated lyrics. But this side of the record is carried to a great extent by the Diplo-produced Close to Me, now almost two years old, which secured its own status through an excellent feature by Swae Lee. Taken as a complete project, it’s the album’s more pensive tunes that linger – they still benefit from Joseph Kearns’ productions, and are by no means sparse, but provide more open space to be explored by Goulding or left empty. They indicate that Goulding can expect not only a number of successful singles but also reappraisal as an artist, deserving recognition within and outside of the shifting boundaries containing the genre of pop music.
Photo: Louie Banks
Brightest Blue is released on 17th July 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Ellie Goulding’s website here.
Watch the video for Worry About Me here: