Single Review: Ellie Goulding – ‘The Writer’

The human voice is an odd thing – always unique, it has the ability to convey a person’s personality as well as being able to be completely deceiving. Some people are gifted with the ability to manipulate certain sounds in a tuneful way with their voice, whilst others are not. And others have a voice that suits a certain type of song, whilst others are all-round performers, or have a voice so bland it sounds barely passable all genres.

Ellie Goulding is one o’ them types with a voice that suits a particular type of song perfectly. She’s like Bob Dylan in that way, obviously she’s not choking on a bear when she sings, nor does she have bum fluff; she’s got a certain ability to sound perfectly suited to singing a ballad, just as Bob Dylan is well-suited to singing a huge anthemic song with big, growling vocals and lyrics about being “born to run”. Could you imagine Ellie singing ‘Born To Run’? As entertaining as it would be, I can’t. But what song does Ellie suit perfectly? Questionable.

Ellie, as a soprano, has the ability to sound very angelic and vulnerable when she sings, but until now, she’s decided she’ll prefer to go down the route of using her soprano/falsetto vocals to convey an icy, chilling ’emotion’ if you can call it that, because both ‘Under The Sheets’ and ‘Starry-Eyed’ were emotionally vacant (in a very good way) electropop nuggets of gold. On ‘Guns & Horses’, an arguably less enjoyable affair, we saw her folk-y side come out. Still with it’s electronic influences, it failed to titillate my ears and despite her attempting to sound more warming, she didn’t really qualify because she barely scratched the surface of emotion. So right now it seems the pop upstart’s voice suits chilling, pounding productions with lots of swirling synths rather than the warming, emotionally vulnerable sound that most sopranos can achieve.

That was the case, until ‘The Writer’ came about. Departing from her usual sound, Ellie becomes exactly what can be expected from someone gifted with a voice like hers – vulnerable and angelic. Not once has she sounded more warming than in this beautifully written love song of devotion to a lover.

“Why don’t you be the artists/And make me out of clay?” she sings, showing off the able singer she actually is by using her lower range rather than overly relying on her falsetto. The lyrics a metaphor for how she’s so desperately in love with someone, she’s willing to let them change her to become more loveable to this person.

The song starts misleadingly, a chiming drone opens up a piano introduction, which then see Ellie singing with more emotion than she has previously shown on the likes of ‘Under The Sheets’ and ‘Guns & Horses’.

Obviously, it being her first ballad, she does fall at some hurdles, like the middle 8: whilst Ellie’s breathy vocals may appear to bridge the emotion between the two final choruses, it actually does feel a bit like she’s gone back to her colder self, not making the emotion clearly defined despite the very comforting lyrics.

The video is pretty simplistic, but it works. There’s something about the idea of Ellie looking like an angel and the idea of dressing her in white, and the subliminal image of a virgin in white, that guides us into falling for the innocence in the video as well as the song.

All in all, the song isn’t as strong as her début single ‘Under The Sheets’, nor is it as memorable and as instantly catchy as ‘Starry Eyed’, but it shows us a different side to Ellie. Whether this is a good thing is yet to be seen, but for now, she’s displayed versatility; not in the sense of someone who does a few upbeat tunes then does a ballad for the hell of it, she actually performs the ballad with emotion and credibility enough to satisfy.

Rating: 4.0 STARS

Download: August 9, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Lights’

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