Review: Ella Morgan
At The Wall Tavern, Whitstable Sunday 27 July 2014
In a welcome addition to Whitstable's live music scene, The Wall Tavern hosted an intimate gig performed with confidence and panache by the young Canterbury based singer/songwriter Ella Morgan. Elegantly tall, she has the beautifully striking look of a poetess about her, borne out by the maturity and finesse of her intriguing lyrics.
Ella delivered an eclectic set accompanied by her amplified acoustic guitar of self written songs alternating with an inspired choice of covers. There was a degree of irony in terms of commencing a pub gig with one of her own songs titled Turn Your Back On The Bar which, while sounding a note of wise caution about the excesses of alcohol, was in no way 'preachy' but as emphasised in her later song Emily ..."I have no sympathy just empathy".
With fascinating jumps of material it's impossible to define her music within a particular genre, covering as it does a very wide waterfront indeed; from the 'blues belter' of Muddy Waters' I've Got My Mojo Working to the delicate 'chanson realiste' sensitivities of Ella's reflective song Pieces. That mood was then contrasted by T Rex's 20th Century Boy before her metaphorically stark and dramatically impacting Poison, which in turn was mellowed out by Midnight Train To Georgia ... that great Soul song by Gladys Knight & The Pips.
There were several surprises not least an impromptu flamenco intro to Hit The Road Jack and an unexpected acoustic Voodoo Child! An outstanding version of The Cranberries Zombie was received attentively as is only proper considering it's subject matter is the effects of 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland and the repercussions in England.
Ella's song Emily had a warm reception as did also her deep and profoundly moving rendition of the Stone's Wild Horses ... she has an impressive ability to build the dynamics of a song layer by layer to considerable effect. Her mix of idiosyncratic phrasing and the occasional manifestations of her New Zealand accent combined exotically at times.
Another highlight was her beautiful song River Of Air (one of the five original songs on her current EP) and this song undoubtedly indicated Ella's ability to combine insightful poetic lyrics, here referencing loss, displacement, and a yearning for former times with an exactly appropriate melody. This was followed by a powerful performance of In The Pines a traditional song made famous by Leadbelly, and also made contemporary again by Nirvana; but as is often the way, a woman's fine voice found other nuances, and drew further depths from this classic and chilling song.
One or two songs would possibly have been enhanced by the electric guitar which Ella also plays, and which provides the backing and coda to some of her songs on the EP, but this was an acoustic gig, and within those parameters all of her material worked fabulously well. Considering the heatwave at the time her encore of Janis Joplin's interpretation of George Gershwin's Summertime was an ideal choice, and was also an excellent showcase for Ella's several octaves instrument of a voice; as with all the songs she sings it was rendered with authenticity and passion.
Ella Morgan has music in her heart and soul, and a rare gift in being able to share this generously with her audience with unaffected humour and directness. I'm sure many more enthusiasts of fine music in the Local & Live area and beyond will soon have the opportunity to discover this for themselves.
Submitted by Nigel