banjo Blues dream folk ethereal folk folk pop harp indie folk review

EllaHarp – Lost in January Review

Ethereal melancholic harp and banjo folk for people needing quiet dreamy reflection.

What does EllaHarp sound like?

Indie-folk songstress moves from harp to banjo.

The review of EllaHarp – Lost in January

When your artist name includes your main instrument in the title, you’d usually expect that artist to stay solid and true to that instrument. EllaHarp hasn’t seen it that way, as she splits her album in half between not just her trusty harp, but this time a banjo. This moves her ethereal folk music into something darker and more rustic and EllaHarp lands it confidently.

EllaHarp - Lost in January coverart
EllaHarp – Lost in January cover art

Much of the album stems from anxiety, loss and feeling lost and these themes permeate not just the lyrics but the overall musical vibe. Be it the harp-led ‘Runaway’ or the banjo gallop of ‘Restless Lullaby’, both tracks evoke a need to search for something. This is because the main melodies are often quite pacey but EllaHarp airbrushes her vocals like ambient caresses of the wind over the top. As her vocals float in and out, layered and cosy, it is as if the listener is catching moments of clarity through a folk fog. It’s really well done and this vocal layering technique pops up a lot across the album.

I also really appreciate that the instrumentation constantly shifts production styles. The title track sucks out all the warmth of the harp, creating a visceral ancient kora-like pluck. Distant guitar echoes add mystical shrouds of ambience and EllaHarp’s vocals enchant with a wisdom other artists could only dream of. In an album crammed with standouts, ‘Lost in January’ doesn’t get lost in the noise. ‘Fall Apart’ takes a similar sound but uses dizzying riffs for the pre-chorus to add some internal chaos. What interests me here is that this sounds like a harp being played as a banjo at times. It is subtle, but the instruments clearly take influences from each other and it makes the album more cohesive.

The melancholy bittersweet nature of the album moves onto banjo folk-pop with ‘Sunflower’. Somewhere between Emily Jane White and The Corrs is where the hue of dark sadness and pop sensibilities sit. ‘Downfall’ feels like a sister track sonically to ‘Sunflower’. Understated choruses with soft vocals, delicate melodies and a rustic banjo folk band bringing grit. Of all the songs I wanted to have an explosive moment, it was ‘Downfall’ but this album isn’t interested in big payoffs. Instead, EllaHarp wants to hold space for reflective melancholy. That allows you to contemplate world events with ‘The 19’. Whilst a lot of the lyrics articulate an overwhelming sense of dread about humanity or life, this track really clicked on a worldview level. This leads us to the desperately sad ‘Jenna’ which appears to be about the loss of someone who wasn’t getting the best shot at life. The banjo has a detuned drudge to it and the omnipresent post-rock guitar whine in the distance haunts every line. The album then closes with a beautiful instrument harp piece entitled ‘George’s’. It’s the only time you’ll hear the harp in its pure form and it is a mystical closer.

‘What’s the cost of more? Spent like pennies in a millionaire’s war’

‘The 19’ – EllaHarp

‘Lost in January’ is the most diverse-sounding album EllaHarp has made to date and it suits her style. She specialises in the downbeat mystical harp folk genre and there is no one else quite delivering what she does. Other musicians often lean more into the classical or experimental side, whereas EllaHarp keeps pop song structures to her sadness and dark, damp warmth. A genuine hidden treasure in the alt-folk world. Don’t wait until next January to listen to this one.

Recommended track: Lost in January

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EllaHarp - Lost in January



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