With streaming platforms dictating the way we listen to music, many “experts” have predicted the death of the album. I, for one, am not prepared to let it die. While the criteria of an archetypical single has enough restraints to sap the creativity out of any true artist, a record allows the full story to be told. Nashville native Ella Mine is set to release Dream War on 7th August, and it is everything that an album should be.
A total of nineteen tracks, each one is strategically placed with pinpoint precision to take the listener on a journey of highs, lows and everything in between. You can expect fluctuations in emotions, sentiment and genres, as Ella uses every corner of the canvas space that an album offers.
Dream War is contemporary, theatrical and ultimately tricky to pigeon hole. The two commonalities that thread it together is the piano work and Ella’s vocals. Her voice is expressive, enchanting and connects directly to the listener with feeling and charisma. This works alongside the piano that prods from beginning to end with a flagrant classical feel. It is a fascinating contrast to the standard usage that has become rife in mainstream music. These two components act as the backbone of Dream War, however, each track is coloured differently swerving the record in several different directions, with even bagpipes making an appearance.
Intro / Tedious + Brief foreshadows the trip Dream War will be taking us on. Beginning with euphoric, rapturous psychedelic synths, we are then introduced to the piano that will be our guide. When the Fleetwood Mac, Albatross-esque guitar gracefully drifts into the mix, it is apparent this album does not follow a set structure.
Hailing from Nashville, you’d be surprised that this is not a full-blown country record. That said, there are brushstrokes texturing songs with those influences. Walls has delicately plucked mandolin, and the fast-paced Where Is She Now is Ella’s take on stomping barn dance country.
Sound + Fury is a poignant moment on Dream War. A well-constructed song that rises and lifts before flying into a chorus that will stop you in your tracks. There is an air of The Pierces to this particular moment that could prove to be the most instant and accessible tune on the album.
Another champagne moment is Fire. It begins as a solemn ballad of enormous sentiment before building into a huge and expressive showcase of melodic mastery and songwriting. It is very much a pop track that infectiously seduces with its charm.
Releasing a record as an independent musician is ambitious and should be commended. Ella is made for this role and carries the lantern with confidence and magnetism. Dream War is an avant-garde work of great beauty that could transcend broadway musicals and mainstream radio stations. It is a magical and surreal soundscape that gently pushes the listener into her very own fantasy world. Expect to explore vulnerability and delve into some of her deepest emotions. Now sit back and let Ella be your guide. It is time to rejoice in the timeless art form that is the album.