Elli Ingram – The Doghouse

Last year Elli Ingram dropped the Sober EP on the market, and the market reacted very favourably, a spotlight suddenly being shown on this teenage Brighton prodigy, particularly via the excellent video and imagery of Mad Love, which depicted Ingram as an older looking, spooky looking suburbanite, wrestling with the demons of over indulgence and ‘mad love’. With some very natural vocal chops that takes a little bit of Adele, a pinch of Amy Winehouse, plenty of old school r’n’b inflections, and which overlays some startlingly inventive production work courtesy of Felix Joseph and Aston Rudi, Ingram has the the ingredients to become a home grown r’n’b starlet. Furthermore, and judging by her recent performance in Brighton’s newest live venue, The Bermuda Triangle, the sounds created here are being translated into a full band set up, a groovy and very capable r’nb, funk and soul outfit.

After Sober, now comes The Doghouse, another five track showcase, and her first for Island Records. It’s another step up as preparations are made for an assault on the nation’s consciousness, if all goes to plan…

While Sober set the stage with its r’n’b pop flavours, Doghouse is a little more adventurous, a little more of a detour down the alleyways of leftfield r’n’b, but still with an ear for a good tune, a recording of a rousing, Martin Luther King-esque church sermon begins When It Was Dark, a slinky, cacophonous number that also features gospel backing singers, hammond organ, and sax. The production throughout is adventurous, experimental, neatly combining elements of old school funk, hip hop and funk sounds with a contemporary nouse.

All Caught Up was recently made Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record of the Week, and again shows off her impressive voice; a controlled yet emotive instrument that she developed and fine-tuned over the last few years, mainly with just guitar or piano as accompaniment when playing live. All Caught Up is slowed down, deep and textured r’n’b, and even features a little bit of slap bass deep in the mix, as well as some more horns, also deeply buried horns, a feature of the production work on this and the last EP.

C’Dawha is largely a showcase for Felix Joseph who throws everything but the kitchen sink on this mash-up, even Ingram’s voice is put through the mincer. A strange experiment, but again a demonstration that this is more than just about Ingram – she has bonded well with the boys over the last two EPs, and they’ve been given plenty of freedom to show off what they can do.
Gangsta Blues has a strong hip hop undertow, while final track The River goes back to Ingram’s roots, a laid back and stripped back acoustic-based song that is largely shorn of production wizardry. A very nice antidote indeed, and essential in showcasing her as a stand-alone artist, capable in any setting.

‘Slow the world down so I can find myself’ she intones on All Caught Up. It’s plain that Ingram isn’t overly concerned about finding a route to commercial riches, she has too much of the ‘artist’ inside her, a talent that, combined with the right production work, could nevertheless reach for the stars. 

Jeff Hemmings