Ella On The Run is a London-based electro-pop artist of Swiss, French and South African origin. She attended The Berklee College of Music here in Boston, Massachusetts and began making music using the Ella On The Run moniker with producer/co-writer Matthew Bang (previously an engineer for Interscope and Timbaland’s Mosley Music group). The Berklee College of Music graduate released her new EP, War of Words, on November 24th. Earlier this year, her debut single, “Golden Boys,” appeared on Glastonbury’s long list for emerging artists in 2014.
The EP opens with “War of Words.” “Maybe I’m the villain or is it you?” begins the throbbing, almost minimalist track, Ella’s voice a dead ringer for Tina Arena, which is not a bad thing at all. “We use our words like weapons,” she sings, her voice smooth and precise. I say precise because it’s obvious that she has complete control of her voice, that every word she sings sounds exactly like she wants it to sound. With some singers, you get a lot of happy accidents where their voice flutters or goes into falsetto when they’re trying not to, etc. There’s none of that with Ella; she is clearly a master of her instrument throughout each of the songs on this EP and it’s awe-inspiring. One also gets the feeling that Ella could be hitting much higher notes if she wanted to, that she simply isn’t doing so because those aren’t the sort of songs she’s writing.
“Rodeo Clowns” follows and has much harder, propulsive beats. “We will be better than we were before,” she sings, her voice colorful, ripe with emotions, love in the air. Ella worked with Scandinavian co-producer Lukasz, who’s considered a prodigy, to give the EP its rich electronic textures and there are lots of subtle details here, lurking beneath the heavy beats. Meanwhile, moody synth alternates between warm and cool throughout the track and bursts of piano appear at precisely the right moments. It’s quite the romantic, downtempo treat.
The song with the most old school sounding electronic elements is easily “Star Lion,” a gorgeous number with bouncy beats, humming synth and lots of electro-tinkering, rendering it as lush as the previous track. It reminds me of Björk’s Homogenic album, which happens to be my favorite Björk record. As with the previous songs, Ella’s lyrics are very poetic and alluring. Let’s just say she could seduce just about anyone with her haunting and seductive words.
A remix of “War of Words” by Bluedot concludes the EP. It begins with a subtle beat and a looped sample of Ella’s vocals with the pitch turned way down (or otherwise processed), making it sound like a male is singing it. About halfway through the song we hear Ella singing in her normal voice, but her vocals are chopped up and you really can’t understand her. Musically, there are shades of the original version of the song throughout the track, which is a good thing because I’d have to say it’s a failure in the vocal department. Ella’s vocals are just so pristine, so why not use more of them? For me, her vocals are the main reason I love the original version of the song. I had high hopes for the remix but I have to say it’s disappointing. Fortunately, the three original songs on this EP are far from being disappointing. No, I’d say they’re first place winners. Expect big things from Ella On The Run. She’s clearly meant to be a big star.