Released: March 2022
The slow unfurling of the world has done little to affect the habits of self-confessed introvert Ego Ella May. Politely unconcerned with excessive self-promotion, she instead focuses her energies on living as authentically as possible, letting the music speak for her. With her 2020 sophomore album ‘Honey For Wounds’ catapulting her to serious acclaim, the two years post have seen her releasing a steady stream of featherweight singles and ‘FIELDNOTES’ - which was a considerably more sombre disillusioned statement. This second chapter sees her working with new producers and exploring a different set of personal avenues.
Akin to her soulful selfless peers within London’s jazz scene, Ego has mastered what is necessary to maintain long-lasting consumer commitment - continuity. ‘FIELDNOTES PT II’ provides warm, mid-tempo beats composed of lush instrumentation that are explored differently by each producer, yet remain comfortingly familiar. The project’s opener ‘Beautiful Days’ produced by current spearheads of London’s nu-jazz scene Blue Lab Beats nods confidently to hip hop, with a hopeful pulse and proud horns. Ego’s subtle references continue to enchant me as she croons "Loverman there you are…" a clear nod to the classic standard 'Loverman, where can you be?'
'Introvert Hotline' is an ode to that titular introversion, trying to avoid human contact even as minimal as a phone call, coming after the hopeful musing of a potential relationship on 'Beautiful Days', the song is an implicit admission of Ego's worries regarding relationships. Third track ‘Centred’, produced by Dougie Stu, is the most sonically and melodically reminiscent of all, the psych soul beat is breezy yet quietly seductive and the organic vocal is barely affected as the subject matter sees a long-awaited confession that she may finally be able to fall in love again.
'Why?', produced by Beau Diako, utilises little more than drums, jazz guitar, and inflections of hushed strings; the remaining space amply filled by Ego’s adorably subtle bed of harmonies. It is seldom noted, but sometimes I feel we have become so accustomed to the infallibility of Ego’s vocal that we forget to take the time to salute its dynamic versatility and ability to merge intense and delicate moments with charisma and quiet power, which the producers have taken full advantage of on this project.
Ego is a firmly established songwriter, and despite the fears of ‘FIELDNOTES’ where she contemplated whether she still had it, this project proves her songwriting to be sharper than ever, even when taking on subject matter that can often become so cloying and dramatic it stops feeling genuine. Within a mere 17 minutes, she spans a vast emotional spectrum that begins with dreams of marriage and expressions of devotion to fear of being left out in the cold, wondering if her dreams with that person are something she can potentially achieve alone.
“I wrote part two of this project about my observations on my cycles of love. The songs are in order of how things seem to go for me”
The above knowledge helps smooth out the arc of 'FIELDNOTES PT II' as the sombre sentimental finale 'for the both of us', all held steady by a single electric guitar, concludes the emotional voyage. This devastating masterpiece finds the most sensitive parts of heartbreak; all the stories and ideas you conjure up with your partner before it's all ripped away.
My final thoughts on 'FIELDNOTES PT II' are that it continues this mini-series without letting the defined structure of the EP hold it back. These five songs are all great in their own right, wonderfully produced, and fantastically written. It's everything a project needs to succeed, but above all, it's true to Ego Ella May's heart.