When urban-pop-folk artist Ellie Lawson left south London to fly to New York she had no idea what was going happen. Signed to Atlantic Records she arrived carrying nothing but a suitcase and, of course, her guitar.
It proved to be the start of something akin to the proverbial roller coaster, which took in limos, TV appearances, and a song of hers being used in a film.This is the kind of life experience that Ellie pours into each of her songs on her latest, independently released, album Lost Songs.
The clue to a lot of what Ellie is about is in the album's title. She somehow found the courage to carry on despite having been dropped by her label after just one year and an album The Philosophy Tree, recorded in Los Angeles. Without that courage, determination, belief and, as it turns out, well placed judgment Lost Songs would probably have remained exactly that.
The eclectic range of songs are nicely framed by her lyrics which, come straight from this type of life experience. It is a journey that started in south London, a very long way away from signing a deal with a major record label in America.
Then, after twelve fast months, it all began to fall apart. Well, it would have had Ellie allowed it to. By bouncing back, she has shown that her music is, of course, ultimately more important and rewarding to her than any big label number crunching.
Where most may have crumbled under the disappointment, Ellie continued to strike out on her own. She remained in New York for two years and began to form her own idea on how to further her career.
Before long she had a slot on the Ellen DeGeneres Show during which the hostess said that she was playing Ellie’s album all the time whilst tipping her for stardom.
Then, along with guitarist Dave Harewood, she co-created their own label, which is aptly called Create Your Own Reality. This is exactly what she has done throughout her musical life. As she says on her website, “we create our own future and our own life, we don’t have to live by what we are told we have to do. If we can build our own dreams, we can actually make them come true.”
So what is the reality that she has created? Ellie’s lyrics have a finger on the pulse reality taken from her observations of everything that life can throw at you. She also explores her journey of self discovery with a heartfelt reflective honesty that is both disarming and defiant.
Certainly you come out of Lost Songs feeling that you know her far better than many people who actually feature in your day to day life. Her story to this point is further explained on her official website which has a revealing account on a video called From Major Label To Independent.
It’s a great insight into how an artist can rise above such a situation and find herself with more “going on after she left the label, then when she was on it.”
Since The Ellen DeGeneres Show she has also appeared at Sundance Film Festival, CES show is Las Vegas, played at Abbey Road as part of the Brit Awards for XM Radio, and at the Woodstock Film Festival.
Soon after that another opportunity arrived, at a crucial time, when Barnes & Noble provided the chance for her and Dave Harewood, to do a tour of some of their 450 U.S. outlets. They played her music within their stores and succeeded in helping to raise her profile, by simply letting her music speak for itself.
Now based back in the U.K. Ellie's Lost Songs can sometimes reveal a sense of vulnerability, and wide eyed wonder, but also has a tangible atmosphere of determined survival. To be able to rise up again reveals a tough, determined, almost driven, edge to her character.
The cover depicts her standing next to that suitcase and guitar, hands in pockets, as if contemplating her next move. That move was Lost Songs an album that confirms that her own self belief was well placed. By surviving she has shown that the music is ultimately more important and rewarding to her than any big label number crunching.
I guess the suits of the music world would deem it to be already overloaded with edgy female singers with the likes of Lily Allen, Amy MacDonald springing to mind. However, Ellie is very much her own person and is not afraid to give space to what she needs to perform rather than what she is told to.
The result is all the more refreshing and varied for it and tracks such as “Strong”, “Bring It Back”, “One Another”, the auto biographical “Dayz Go”, and “There’s Still Time” justify her determination.
Ellie Lawson has created her own reality and Lost Songs is a major step along the way to fulfilling that vision. You may well catch her when she plays ten UK Quiksilver Women stores during this summer. In the meantime the charity War Child.org stands to benefit from every album sold.
Catch up with Ellie, have a listen, and find out about those dates by visiting her MySpace page.