Review: Ross Neilsen – Elemental (Independent)

ross-neilsenInspired by his participation in a songwriting camp after which he resolved to write the best songs he could regardless whether they fit within the blues mould or not, Fredericton’s Ross Neilsen has delivered what I would dare say is a career-defining record.

Led by a hypnotic background vocal chant, Elemental’s title track begins pouring out of the speakers as Neilsen pushes his vocals to refreshing new places, casting off any pre-conceived notions about how he should musically present himself. The musical experimentation doesn’t stop there, however: “Devil Made You” is the best roots song Rodney Crowell written in the last 10 years, while the addition of a horn section on “The Race” complements the song’s laid-back vibe. Wisely, however, Neilsen doesn’t completely neglect his blues roots, delivering “Black Coffee” straight from the Mississippi Delta, while echoes of Gov’t Mule abound in “Woman’s Name.”

Neilsen’s seemingly natural ability to walk new paths at this point in his career will not only appease longtime fans of the guitarist, he is likely to earn a lot of new ears along the way.

To check out Elemental, head over to Ross Neilsen’s Bandcamp site.