ELYSE - Elyse

Elyse J Weinberg was a US folkie who released her self-titled album in 1968. It actually received some critical acclaim at the time of its release, most notable for her distinctive vocal style. A sort of cross between the gutsy growl of Janis Joplin and the fractured fragility of Melanie, it imbued these mostly self-penned songs with something just a little out of the ordinary. ‘Last Ditch Protocol – John Velveteen’ opens the album with a touching tale of a knight watching his fair maiden die, and while it sounds very much a ‘trad arr.’ folk song it was actually written by Elyse. The sole cover is a fine reading of Bert Jansch’s ‘Deed I Do’, and this is followed by the sound effects laden freakout of ‘Iron Works’ and the upbeat boogie of ‘Spirit Of The Letter’. ‘Here In My Heart’ is the sort of thing that Elyse does best, a folk-tinged ballad with minimal backing but which allows her outstanding voice to really emote the lyrics. ‘Meet Me At The Station’ sees her vocals at their most Melanie-like, while ‘Simpleminded Harlequin’ sounds much more robust, and the understated orchestral backing adds to the mood of the song. ‘Mortuary Bound’ is a bluesy piece with off kilter lyrics, and ‘If Death Don’t Overtake Me’ closes the album with a full blown rocker featuring a full band. And that would be it were it not for the fact that this vinyl version has two bonus tracks, both recorded for a later unissued album, and one of which – ‘Houses’ – features the distinctive guitar playing of one Neil Young. Not only that, but it a great song with one of Elyse’s best vocals, and an almost commercial edge to it. ‘What You Call It’ is just Elyse and her guitar, and ends this album with a taster of what her second album could have sounded like. For now invest in this one and discover a real lost gem.