Kendall Elise steps back into the limelight with her second full album, ‘Let The Night In’, an evocative collection of songs, reminiscent of all things retro – minus the kitsch, or nostalgic connotations. The Auckland artist traverses the realms of ’60s pop and soul, the ‘Nashville sound’, and moments of chanteuse drama; all the while staying true to her roots in rockabilly and country.
On first listen these tracks pay homage to Fleetwood Mac-esque balladry, while veering toward dark British finger-style folk songs (think Pentangle or Trees), as well as the aforementioned ’60s pop stylings. All juxtaposed with the bold content of her honest and (at times) simple songwriting.
‘Let The Night In’ seems to present us a darker, yet more at-peace version of Kendall, as well as showing an adventurous side. Her attitude seems to be open and accepting of the ways of the world, combined with a definite sense of adventure – a bit of a ‘fuck it’ vibe. This shines through in the exploration of her vocal range, including dipping into the dangerous territory of “doo doo doos” and whistle solos. And yes, she does make it work.
Where straightforward, matter-of-fact, language is used to put her point across, Kendall has created contrastingly intricate and alluring musical arrangements which bring an unexpected depth and quality to her songs. All arrangements and production notably hers too.
Let The Night In, the title track, seems to embrace darkness, or disappointment, and suggests that the writer is a being at peace with the way the world works – “It’s okay, let the night in…” This perhaps makes sense in the context of 2020 and her Covid-cancelled European tour, but there is always a silver lining, and here it is!
Between smouldering country-pop, chilling folk-style fingerpicking and sultry yet entirely innocent delivery, lies her rockabilly rendition of Your Mama Won’t Like Me, which many will know from Suzi Quatro. Kendall lets rip, and it is everything you didn’t know you needed.
Kendall Elise has created a marvellous second record, and is rightly among finalists for the upcoming 2021 Best Country Music Song award with the album’s lead single Between Hello and Goodbye. Her record collection is one this listener is dying to fossick through!