New York City’s Jay Elle is a gifted singer/songwriter whose six song EP release Ease Up illustrates his ability to inhabit multiple genres in a convincing way. His aptitude for taking on multiple guises without ever losing the center of his art distinguishes him from other stylistic magpies but the convincing manner of his songwriting and performances does as well. Ease Up, since its release, has received a lot of critical praise and has charted on the New Music Weekly and the Country Internet Chart. Ease Up is Elle’s first release since his 2016 debut Rising Tide and reflects how this skilled songwriter has refined his talents in the interim between releases.
“Ease Up (Into Love)” has a clear and distinctive songwriting voice. It is a characteristic of Elle’s art present on his first release Rising Tide and has evolved many steps since that 2016 outing. He has a way of writing about time-tested themes with language all his own and the musical arrangement references familiar sonic signatures while sharing the same individualistic bent. There’s a relaxed confidence prevalent in the writing, sound, and performance that distinguishes Elle’s work from many contemporaries and peers.
He scores in a big way with the third track “Take a Holiday”. It has a breezy feel approximating the song title yet never seeming rushed in any way. Elle exerts a controlled hold over both the songwriting and music throughout the release, but the chorus for this track is among the best included on the EP. Choruses are a consistent strength on the release as a whole. “Take a Holiday” is one of the most energetic releases on Ease Up, but never overreaches.
“By the Blade” has a more aggressive vibe than any of the earlier tracks, but Elle never allows things to become too overwrought. The drumming for this song sets an authoritative tone from the outset and propels things forward with inexorable rhythmic prowess. This track is a little more cluttered than the earlier performances, but never without rhyme or reason. It has a muscular musical posture the other songs do not share.
Keyboards bring a lot of color to the penultimate track “Never Dreamed (I Could Be The One)” and they fuel the most obviously commercial effort on Ease Up. Elle has a gift for inhabiting this sort of pop song superseding even his talents in the singer/songwriter vein but the presence of this track is more an exhibition of his range as a writer than a signpost indicating any future path he should take. “Sickly Sweet” concludes the EP on a slightly elegiac note without ever lapsing into outright sentimentality. Elle ends the release, as well, with one of Ease Up’s best vocal performances. It’s a musical strong point on the release and features one of the best marriages of vocal, lyric, and music on the release. It underlines his talents with melody and brings the EP to a satisfying conclusion that should bring listeners back for more with future releases.