12 Aug 2022

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Kendall Elise - Album Review: Let The Night In

26 Aug 2021 // A review by Roger Bowie

The new album from Kendall Elise is out today. It’s called Let The Night In, and once again Kendall recorded at Roundhead.

The album opens with a good old country rhythm behind Kendall’s sultry vocals, plaintively looking for an Honest Hand with boo-wop backing vocals supporting the retro riff. I’m immediately put at ease. Firstly, this is an easy listen and secondly a reassuring segue from Red Earth. The outro is special – an increasingly desperate search and then Kendall disappears to leave her backing singers continue the refrain, where on earth can you find an honest hand? Oh dear.

I Want showcases Kendall’s 60s voice, sublime and soulful, reminiscent of Dusty as the song builds into the first of many defining guitar solos. So far, so nice; so far, so safe…..

Hang on, check out the new video, sweet demure Kendall does a Miley Cyrus and rocks hard and dirty in this raucous cover of Suzy Quatro’s Your Mamma Won’t Like Me, which is as big a surprise as it was live at the Wine Cellar two years ago. This is the song that will get the audience up and off in a live setting, and it also shows us a different side of Kendall Elise, rock chic, bad dirt girl, been down to Kirk’s Bush where her Mamma told her not to go. Your Mamma won’t like you either.

Which leads to a time for reflection, and the pressure of trying to be a musician and keeping down a full-time job, a song written during a Bic Runga song writing workshop, and Something’s Gotta Give and thank goodness something has otherwise this (writing) would not be happening. The song reflects both the dilemma and the outcome as it builds in steely determination from a question to a decision.

And now the first of two little gems, songs around two minutes long, both of which could go on, but don’t, leaving us breathless and wanting more. Who Kissed Who is a soft folky ballad, playful talk amongst lovers searching for clarity and reassurance. But before the second gem there’s a big country intro to the breakup song, maybe but not necessarily linked to the one before. Stuck Between Hello and Goodbye and a whistle, this song was sung at the New Zealand Country Music Awards, a finalist but up against Tami Neilson and Delaney Davidson. Great song, second or third!!

And the second little gem, A Kingdom, a delightfully jangly guitar intro and a double tracked vocal taking us back to folklore England and just a sweet little song which could be ten minutes long but isn’t. Existential. Fool’s gold. Something has gone wrong with he who was kissed.

Well, just get over it Kendall, the rock is back, this time no Pretenders, but You Gotta Be A Little Mad. Channelling Chrissie and Florence and Grace gives a nice timelessness. Very Slick, with a Motown feel. Another song just waiting for the band to let rip live…..

Make You Shine has an Aldous Harding intro, “are you drunk from the airport” and a quintessential country guitar moan, low then high, accentuating the melancholy, suppressing the anger, before the catharsis.

And finally the gentle on my mind title track, Let The Night In provides a reassuring support and it’s OK, it’s really OK, it really, really is (but I’m really not sure), and on that note of emotional ambivalence, the album closes out, a tantalising mix of tone and tenor as Kendall Elise continues to open up, share her journey, and shine.

This is not a departure, rather a very fine progression, a step up in the most assured journey of Kendall Elise into our ears and hearts.

Please let the tour happen soon!!

And check out my interview with Kendall on "It's a Wrap with Roger"

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Kendall Elise

Kendall Elise is an intriguing story teller with a hint of yesteryear. With trademark quirky touches and flawless vocal delivery she has been turning heads since the release of her EP in 2017 I Didn’t Stand A Chance . Fresh from touring with Kiwi born, LA based Gin Wigmore and supporting Larkin Poe at their sold out Auckland show.
Her Debut single Heart Full of Dirt was a finalist for the APRA Best Country Music Song 2017.

Kendall Elise has just released her debut album, of which singles The Clock Tower and Valentine Street feature. The album debuted at number 12 on the NZ Music Album Charts.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Kendall Elise


Let The Night In
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Red Earth
Year: 2019
Type: Album
I Didn't Stand A Chance
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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