Eliza Jaye – Middle Child: Album Review

Delightful posthumous release from Eliza Jaye that is as full a testament to the remarkable talents of a remarkable lady as is possible to imagine.

Release Date:  18th September 2020

Label: C.R.A.F.T. Pop

Formats: CD / DL

The name Eliza Jaye may not be familiar to you, and, if it isn’t, that’s a great pity.  Born Elizabeth Jane McInerney in Sydney, Australia, she was involved in music from the age of five when she first started learning violin. 

The possessor of a magnificent, multi-facetted voice that evokes a range from the growl of Dana Gillespie to the shriek of Kate Bush and all stations in between, she was a capable, instinctive guitarist, an insightful, sensitive, violinist and a visionary songwriter.  When spotted by Oli Moule whilst playing in Brighton pub, Oli had no hesitation in inviting her to join Moulettes, and she toured with that outstanding outfit for two years.

Sadly, Eliza succumbed to cancer in February this year at the age of just 43, but Middle Child is as full a testament to her talents as is possible to imagine.  Middle Chid is her second album and follows her 2013 debut, The Seed.

Middle Child is a magnificent album.  Produced by Joe Gibb at his home studio in Mumbles, South Wales, it’s a collection of songs that covers a whole range of musical styles from Celtic folk to ambient, via punk, power pop, soul & disco, introspection and jazz.  The songs are sensitively arranged and played, the choice of instrumentation is inspired and the ace-card, Eliza’s awesome voice, is used perfectly to evoke, at various times, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, Dusty Springfield and Kate Bush (and they’re just the ones that I picked out!)

The album opens with the rocky Sugar Cane, a love against the odds number.  Eliza wears her Chrissie Hynde vocal guise and the guitar/violin backing is tight and catchy.  A great opener that really manages to hook the listener in.  Run Like the Nile is fast, furious and punky and wouldn’t have sounded out of placer on Patti Smith’s Horses album.  The lyrics are almost spat out over Eliza’s staccato guitar licks.  Tenderness changes the pace and style of the album; a wonderful backing on which violin, harp and, surprisingly, theremin, blend perfectly to frame Eliza’s gentle and intimate vocal.

Déjà Vu was written in the southern French town of Perpignan.  Eliza intended to capture the ambience of the town with her composition, and she succeeded admirably in doing so.  The dreamy lyrics explore the disconcerting experience of the sensation of déjà vu and the vocal delivery is soft and other-worldly – a description that applies equally to several other songs in this set – including My Sunrise, on which steady guitar, bass and drums combine with Eliza’s haunting violin and soprano vocal. 

Tigers is a big, soulful ballad that sounds disconcertingly like one of Shirley Bassey’s Bond themes and Espionage is a raucous, chugging, rocker with an uncanny flavour of Automatic For The People era R.E.M. On the funky I Do, Eliza almost becomes Donna Summer, before Orchid signals the start of the dreamy, ambient trilogy of songs that close the album.  Orchid is perhaps my favourite track on the album; it’s another of the ‘otherworldly’ songs; a spacy, image-laden piece which stunningly blends South American, Arabian and Celtic rhythms and themes.  The dreamy, spacy theme is continued on This Desert and on album closer, Take The Time, to conclude a truly wonderful set of songs.

Eliza is supported by Abel Cross, Victoria Smith, Yotin Walsh, Oli Moule and Toby Dawes to deliver a full, rich but never overwhelming sound on this excellent album.  It’s a collection of songs that you’ll want to hear over and over again, and be reminded of what a remarkable talent we have tragically lost.

Watch the Eliza Jaye perform Needs Must here:

Find Eliza Jaye online:  Website / Soundcloud / Youtube / Facebook

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