In 1992, a musician known only as E released a collection of tunes entitled A Man Called E. The songs were filled with sorrow, yearning and loneliness but were not without charm. I fell in love with that record.
The spare, aching neediness in the songs — which was mainly just E accompanying himself on guitar or piano — was genuine and I could really imagine him "looking out the window with a blue hat on," immersed in his melancholy world.
Since then, E (nee Mark Everett Oliver) has found great success with his band The Eels and has diversified his sound, which is an admirable thing for an artist to do. However, I must admit, none of his work has touched me as much as that first solo release.
So it was interesting to hear the new Eels song “Little Bird” (offered as a free download on their website), culled from the forthcoming release End Times. The song, with its spare arrangement, delicate guitar picking and E’s raspy crooning, harkens back to the stylings of that first release.
Here we find the singer pining for a lost love and telling his tale of woe to a bird on his porch. The sentiments are simple and heartfelt. In the end we are almost led to believe his little conversation with his non-judgmental friend has helped ease his pain. But the last verse could be taken a couple of ways:
I guess you're right
Can't let her take me out
Without a fight
But right now I can't see making sense of this world
I just can't take out very much
I miss that girl
Will he move on with his life without her or will he allow his despair to overwhelm him? It seems to be left to the listener to decide.
The song has whet my appetite for what could be an interesting musical journey. Where will the Eels go with this one? Judging by the doom and gloom title and “Little Bird”, I doubt this will be an upbeat collection of tunes. But who knows? The Eels work, while not always my musical cup of tea, has never been predictable. End Times will be released on January 19th on Vagrant Records.