Eliza Newman - Ukulele Song for You EP - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

Eliza Newman - Ukulele Song for You EP

by Al Brown Rating:5 Release Date:2011-01-17

Although some people doubtless hate the whole ukulele craze, there's something so chirpy about those goofy little things that always lifts my mood. The ukulele is a one dimensional instrument - it gives you that summer feeling and nothing else - but there's a kind of purity, a lack of pretension in that sound that appeals to this jaded old fart. 'Ukulele Song for You' is kind of Feist-esque and it's pretty but also very, very predictable and probably a bit over-produced - do silly little ukulele love songs need swelling Kate Bush-ripped choruses? Or would it be a whole lot more charming if you kept it low-key?

'Out of Control' is similar: I like it but the lyrics are totally lacking in character, and that's the over-arching problem here. Music this simple and twee needs to be personal and evocative as all hell in order to be interesting - it needs to say something special and memorable about the singer, and about the world or the human condition - anything less is just tiresome. And yeah, I'm basically asking everyone to be Stuart Murdoch or Leonard Cohen but this is 2011 folks, and if you're literally just going to play three chords on a uke then you'd better make sure the lyrics/delivery/atmosphere blow my pants off.

Final track 'Eyjafjallajökull' makes me wistful for my old band and the days when we would sit around trying to write songs, and, unable to expose our true feelings and desires to each other for fear of mockery or out of some old fashioned idea of masculinity (or maybe it was just writer's block) - would inevitably try to write a song about something that had been in the news. I had sort of hoped that Newman, who has been writing music for 20 years (she used to sing in Icelandic band Bellatrix), would be past that crippling stage of pseudo-songwriting. And, fuck's sake, the titular volcano did not erupt due to some kind of environmental karma because we all take too many flights. No one stuck in a foreign airport, constipated, dirty, tired and alone for three days could get behind that, and neither will I. Hippy.

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