A record that allowed Kate to take the whirlwind in her head and put it to song.
Tracks Another Way, Bluebirds And Rye and Wonderland – out now
”A class act, one to watch – a voice that has lived a life and has stories to tell.”
“Brand new yet classically timeless – think Nanci Griffith with a modern twist.” LYRIC MAGAZINE
“Kate Ellis put down her law degree to pick up a guitar – thank God she did!” BBC RADIO ULSTER
“She’s been likened to Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Gillian Welch. We couldn’t agree more.” SONGWRITING MAGAZINE
Kate Ellis is an Americana singer-songwriter born in Louisiana, raised in New York and now based in London, England. Kate is excited to announce the release of her spell-binding sophomore album ‘Spirals’ on February 18th, 2022 on River Rose Records; “a collection of songs that came out of a process of soul searching”.
Kate Ellis started writing songs when she decided to put down her law degree and pick up a guitar. This led to her critically acclaimed debut album Carve Me Out, released in 2017. Maverick Magazine called it: “wryly reflective, sweetly melodic, touchingly compassionate and warm-hearted.” RnR Magazine described it as: “delicate, melodic music with the ring of truth to her words and that most elusive quality, soul.” While Americana UK gave it 8/10 saying: “Quite simply a superb debut album and one that announces the arrival of a genuine talent.”
The title track to the first album was the song that Kate wrote the morning after her mother died, so the record poignantly marked the end of this period of her life. Now Kate Ellis is releasing her second album Spirals which came out of a process of soul searching that followed: “to quiet the thought storms in my head and find my balance in the world,” says Kate.
The album was produced by John Reynolds who has recorded and produced some of the most iconic artists in the music world, including Sinéad O’Connor, the Indigo Girls, Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, Belinda Carlisle, The Cranberries, and Damian Dempsey. It was recorded in his New Ayr Studios in London and features a stellar line-up of musicians including a trio from Sinéad O’Connor’s band – bass player Clare Kenny, guitarist Graham Kearns and John Reynolds himself on drums – plus Chris Hillman on guitars and mandolin, Thomas Collison on keyboards (both American Music Association UK instrumentalists of the year), acclaimed Irish singer Pauline Scanlon on backing vocals, Joseph Paxton on violin as well as Kate’s long- time collaborator and partner Andy Hobsbawm.
Kate Ellis and John Reynolds connected strongly over a desire to capture the emotional truth in the music. John said: “Miraculously, out of lockdown came this beautiful album by Kate Ellis. She is a unique songwriter and deeply emotional singer.” Kate added: “It was incredible working with John. He is a true artist who had a powerful emotional feel for the songs and an amazing vision of how to bring them to life.”
The theme of Spirals reflects Kate’s attempts “to find a new understanding of ways to cope with the demons and dramas that can take over our minds.” It’s about getting lost in the maze of obstacles and pain we encounter in life – how we go around in circles inside our head, or try to get back things we can’t, or solve a pain there’s no solution to. And it’s about getting out of these spirals to a more peaceful place on the other side.
Like many, Kate has struggled with depression, anxiety and self-doubt at various times in her life. “I think people tend to find greater peace with their psychological demons as they grow older” says Kate. “You can deepen your understanding of your own psychology at any age, but watching your parents die, your children grow up, and experiencing a lifetime of love and pain in relationships perhaps gives you more perspective on these issues.”
Now the issue of mental health is much less taboo and in the public consciousness, it seems like these are universal human challenges many of us face at some point in our lives. “There are many different kinds of songs and moods on this album,” says Kate, “and even the melancholy ones come with added life and hope – not just the pain of the human condition but the joy and peace that lies underneath it.” She adds: “This is the truth behind the songs that I hope people will be able to connect with and respond to.”
Spirals – The title track is one of two songs that encapsulate the album theme most directly. “Spirals” is a song about wandering around inside your head feeling lost in a maze of your own thoughts, but eventually finding a way out of the confusion and anxiety that your mind creates to a truer place of acceptance, joy and hope. Spirals also continues a tradition of pop songs with odd time signatures such as Money by Pink Floyd, Golden Brown by The Stranglers, 2+2=5 by Radiohead, or Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel as it alternates between 7/4, 6/4, 3/4 and 4/4 throughout the track.
The Story You’ve Been Told – This is the other song that encapsulates the album theme. The Story You’ve Been Told follows the patterns of thought and narratives we tell ourselves are true, that aren’t necessarily so. We carry around these stories about who we are, where we come from, what happened to us and what it means. As Kate says: “For many people this creates a false system of beliefs about ourselves, our values and our lives that’s not based on reality. Ultimately, the song is about finding your way out of these thoughts that can possess you and memories and feelings that can trap you by seeing that the stories aren’t true and can be discarded. Once we stop seeing our lives through a distorted prism, we are fine.”
Bluebirds And Rye – In Kate’s words: “I wrote this for my daughter who, like me, is an emotional girl. This is my letter to her telling her I know what she’s going through, and it can feel hard, but everything’s going to be fine in the end. The song is about recognis- ing the patterns in myself that I can see getting passed on, and the pitfalls of certain emotional pathways that I know from experience you want to avoid. I wanted to tell her: just take a breath and find a moment of rest. All there is is love and peace, everything else is in your head. This is what’s important so don’t worry about the other stuff; it’s all going to be ok.”
Another Way – Many of these spiral mazes of thoughts and emotions we get stuck in are passed on through family relationships. This story of a flawed man doing the best he can is loosely based on Kate’s father. “It’s a song of a daughter finding forgiveness for her father and understanding the connection between them” says Kate. “It’s about realising that someone can only live by what they see as real, and we can’t always see another way to be. Love allows you to accept that person with all their frailties.”
Wolf – This song came out of feelings Kate remembers having as a young girl, how sometimes the feeling of being sad can become a strange kind of comfort (“What would I do, without the devil I knew?”). It’s about fighting the dark forces within but at the same time inadvertently keeping them alive by embracing their familiar presence (“The wolf that you feed more will always win the war”).
Scars – The producer John Reynolds wanted to create a series of scenes, moments and moods on the record, so you can switch between beautiful dreamy spaces like Wolf or feeling like you’ve just walked into a rowdy bar for Scars. “Andy [Hobsbawm] wrote this dysfunctional love song about the fine line between love and hate in relation- ships and I love the humour in it” Kate says. “Also how even after the endless rinse and repeat cycles of stormy emotion there’s still love there in the end (“I guess this must be love, ‘cos we can’t get enough”).”
Can’t Not – Sometimes not loving someone can feel as impossible as the most impossible things, like travelling back in time, altering the seasons or turning water into wine. The only way to deal with things in life we have no control over, like death, time, or the pain of relationships, is finding some acceptance. “I can’t not love you” is the loop this person is trapped in even though the relationship has gone. When you’ve gone through all of the crap and come through to the other side, what’s still there? Love. And you’re stuck with it.
Other Side Of The Street – This song adds a different colour to the album. “It was written by a friend Tom Hackwood who used to be the drummer in a band with Andy [Hobsbawm],” said Kate. “We loved the tune and although he wrote it as an introspective, indie ballad, we thought it would work really well as an upbeat country pop song.” She adds: “I’ve always loved the way that Abba combined deceptively jaunty, toe-tapping tunes with lyrics about heartbreak and loss and I like how our treatment of this song tries to do the same thing.” Like Can’t Not this song is about the bitter sweet nature of love – it’s always there and won’t leave you even when you might want it to.
Wonderland – A song inspired by a walk in a city park when Kate glimpsed flashes of how alive, powerful, and beautiful nature is and how indivisibly bound to it we are. Kate explains: “Wonderland’ is about how perceiving nature in a viscerally connected way gives us a deeper appreciation of it and a deeper sense of loss for what we’re putting at risk. The song was released as part of a unique creative collaboration with contempo- rary artist Geraldine van Heemstra using music, art and nature to inspire change for the COP26 climate conference (see www.ourwonderland.org for details).
I Am The Tree – A song about the cycle of life and death through the generations that expresses how Kate felt when her mother passed away: until that point she was a branch on the family tree, but now as the surviving matriarch of the family she was the tree. She didn’t want to be, but realised she had to be. It’s about adapting to pain and loss through love. You may spiral down in grief but then you can find a way back by letting that loss flow through you.
Kate Ellis is an Americana singer-songwriter, who was born in Louisiana, grew up in New York and is now based in London, England. Kate’s southern country-folk roots come from her father, an important early musical influence who once played guitar with Hank Williams on the famous Louisiana Hayride, where Elvis and Johnny Cash started out. Kate’s emotional and seductive vocals take you into a world of private beauty, re- flection and feelings; the music is always intimate and evocative, you listen and want to be there. A journalist for the Observer described hauntingly beautiful songs, while No Depression described her debut album Carve Me Out as: “an album of great warmth and feeling that just makes you press repeat. Definitely worthy of recognition”.