I was at my ten year college reunion this summer, sprawled out on the campus lawn chatting with some friends during an alumni concert, when a voice stopped me cold in my tracks. It happens so rarely, a singer’s voice so powerful it’s physically arresting. I can remember just about every vocalist whose voice has jolted me on first hearing it: Neko Case, Elizabeth Fraser, Sally Ellyson from Hem, Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, Beth Gibbons from Portishead, maybe a couple more. And now, Ellipsis’ Vale Jokisch.
Ellipsis, a trio that also includes my college buddy Joel Price on mandolin/violin and Matt Murphy on acoustic guitar, got up on the tiny stage that night, and I was struck dumb by Vale’s voice. Hours before, I’d been catching up with Joel and hearing all about the band he’d been active with since college. Folky and delicate, it didn’t sound like my cup of tea. And then they got on stage. I’ve been an addict since.
Joel was awesome enough to send some Ellipsis CDs my way soon afterwards, and as with Vale’s voice, I fell in love with them. Quiet and enchanting, some tracks were downright revelatory. Vale’s incomparable voice alongside Matt and Joel’s spare, soulful strums and strings made for some achingly beautiful music. Ellipsis became glued into my stereo for the second half of 2010. Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t physically wear out their album Take What You Will, as the first track, Episode One, was probably my most played track of last year.
Ellipsis’ new EP Walk This Road was just released, and I thought I’d post this as a PSA. You can nab it here. It’s worth it for their spare, aching, heartwrenching rendition of the Jeff Buckley classic “Hallelujah” alone, though equally sublime is “Stowing Ophelia”, a rearrangement of an Ellipsis favorite which Joel’s dubbed “Stowaway 2.0phelia”. The whole thing is pretty ace, really. Maybe you should start here, on their Facebook page, where you can hear the album and stay abreast of all things Ellipsis.