Friday, October 11, 2013
Photos courtesy of Eilidh McKellar
Finding talented new singer-songwriters is one of my driving passions in life, and there are so many good ones surfacing, every day it seems, it's hard, no, it's impossible to listen to them all, much less write about them. Direct Current Music does such a great job at this, that they are pretty much the web's authority on new singer-songwriters, and I think that DC would agree that the UK has been especially blessed with talent.
Just when it seems like you've heard so much folk, chamber-folk, neo-folk and alt-folk that it all starts to blur, along comes Eilidh McKellar, a nineteen year-old singer, guitarist, and songwriter from Edinburgh, playing electric, guitar-based rock that is utterly without affect, like a breath of fresh air, blowing in from Scotland by way of California. Or Louisiana. Her name Eilidh is of Scottish and Gaelic origin and is pronounced "Ay-lay". She has just released her first single, "Summer Daze".
Photo: Christie Goodwin
Go ahead and play it again. And again. I had to when I first heard it yesterday; couldn't quite believe how good it sounded. The obvious parallel would be Davey Knowles who, already a gifted blues rock guitarist and singer, formed Back Door Slam at the age of 21. But while Back Door Slam perfected a style that leaned toward Cream-era Clapton and Rory Gallagher, Eilidh's guitar has a more American accent. You can hear a little swamp, a little Stones, and a whole lot of soul in her music. Here is the personnel on "Summer Daze".
Eilidh McKellar- Lead and Background Vocals, Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Dobro
Alan Okuye- Hammond Organ, Acoustic Piano, Keyboards
Tim Lefebvre- Electric Bass
Guy Eckstine- Drums, Percussion, Background Vocals
Produced by Guy Eckstine
Video Directed by Forest of Black this album.
All songs written by Eilidh McKellar
In 2011, according to her bio, "the highlight of her nascent career was performing at the Hammersmith Apollo with legendary blues/rock guitarist, Joe Bonamassa. Joe had seen Eilidh on YouTube and asked her to join him on stage– a huge honor and she delivered great solos much to his and the audiences delight." She considers Bonamassa a mentor. Read her complete bio below.
My first thought upon hearing Eilidh was that she could be the logical successor to Texas and Del Amitri, two of Scotland's finest. We might seem to be be getting ahead of ourselves, if all this was based on hearing one song, but along with the single came an electronic press kit. Watch the EPK (below) and you will hear portions of five songs that will be on her debut album when it is released in early 2014. These songs sound so amazingly good, that we all have ample reason to be excited about the album.
In the EPK, Eilidh says, "I suppose, like rock, I think it needs a fresh take on it...if you look at the charts now...it's more dance based, hip hop, and, I like to take an influence just like your classic guitar driven rock and put, about kind of like soul in it...I want people to...like the music and...yeah I want to be successful...I want to kind of keep comin' back with music that will last" Eilidh's words are as refreshing as her music. I think that Eilidh has the potential to do with rock music, what Joss Stone has done with soul and R&B, in that when quality music finds a mass audience, magic happens and the future is limitless.
Eilidh 's EPK:
Eilidh McKellar - Summer Daze
Eilidh 's Website
Eilidh 's Facebook
Eilidh 's Twitter
Eilidh 's complete website bio:
In the UK where the reverence for American blues artists runs deep and has brought forth legendary guitar heroes Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton, the endless grey skies of Edinburgh, Scotland are most definitely not immune to this musical iconography. Eilidh McKellar, a 19-year-old Scottish born singer and guitarist offers an interesting blend of indie rock, blues, and pop music with a nod towards the New World. Not only can Eilidh play with heartfelt emotion on the guitar, her voice comes from deep in the Mississippi River delta- where alligators lie in wait and Southern Comfort allays the sins of the soul.
Eilidh started playing the guitar when she was 9 years old. With no other musicians in the family everything Eilidh has achieved has been the result of her own hard work and endearing devotion to her local guitar shop. In time she became a much beloved local fixture there testing out every available guitar on its walls. Meanwhile at home Eilidh listened to her dad’s Rolling Stones albums fostering an early love of the blues. “I loved the sound of those records, very raw and loose as if everyone was comfortable in their skin- I was feeling that.” Her interest in the blues expanded when she watched a television documentary and it led Eilidh to discover artists such as Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix. Guitar lessons, both electric and classical, continued through her high school years. Together with Eilidh’s experience as part of the Edinburgh School Rock Ensemble for 5 years, allowed her to develop her guitar abilities and overall musicianship.
In 2011 Eilidh began uploading performance videos to YouTube, initially to raise her profile and to help with music college applications, which landed her at the Leeds College of Music. The video response was very positive and Eilidh has now clocked up a nearly one million views overall. She also began performing on the local Edinburgh blues scene. This provided Eilidh with opportunities to jam with established musicians such as Oli Brown and James Burton. The highlight of her nascent career was performing at the Hammersmith Apollo with legendary blues/rock guitarist, Joe Bonamassa. Joe had seen Eilidh on YouTube and asked her to join him on stage– a huge honor and she delivered great solos much to his and the audiences delight.
Eilidh’s YouTube videos then caught the attention of American manager and producer, Guy Eckstine, who immediately offered his services for creative direction and career guidance. “As soon as I got wind of her and watched her videos, I reached out through social media. I asked Eilidh if she could sing- and she really “hadn’t bothered to try.” Two weeks later she sent me vocal demos which blew my mind.” Incorporating her various influences into a contemporary recording will be an interesting adjustment. “I’ve got many influences and voices inside of me that need to get out there into the world- I love indie rock, jazz, blues, and pop music too- I can’t wait to make this all come to fruition this year.”