Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
The streetlights can be brutal illuminators. The light bulbs in lamps near the bedside can be even worse. They can be the most unwelcome of guests when all you'd like it to be left alone, out for the collection. They shine on the worst of the flaws, the most tragic of blemishes - or where the rip is going to happen, where the soul is going to drop completely out.
Ellen Smith of Ellen & The Escapades glares into the lights that bear down on her, blinking and shielding her eyes. She finds them turned up as bright as they can be turned. They give the cheeks a rosiness, just from exposure, they burn their wattage right through her surfaces. Then they die off right as the next step is going to be taken, right when they're needed the most, right when the next words are about to emerge and a horrible tumble occurs. The head knocks against the floor, with both arms unable to get themselves out before the impact - not knowing how much time they had to really brace themselves or soften the blow. It's a landing on a cold street or into a slick of mud, something that just adds insult to injury, right when it couldn't have gotten any more depressing, more painful - even if none of the pain was truly physical. You think that you don't hear this in Smith's music, but it's there when I listen.
They are the times that have drawn themselves out and she's only making the best of them, attempting to paint smilier faces on the parties involved. There's little doubt that most of the stuff that she writes about is coming from an unfortunate sideline seat, a spot where the only thing left to do is to expend energies on what went wrong and why it went wrong again. She sings, "Sometimes I think about the things we used to do/And the love I gave to you," and what we hear in that line is not anything that would suggest a mutual breakup, but one where it couldn't be more obvious that the love that was given is long, long gone. These are hurts that ring, even if they're presented in the cool morning light of a morning, even when there's a desire to feel them differently.