With Somewhere In-Between, Eloise again makes singing and writing her own torchy material seem effortless. Even if the subject matter often conveys absolute pain and sorrow, she’s finding “different shades and angles of romance” to explore.
Turning some of the initial ideas that came to her within the past three years into songs for the mini-album, she wrote most of them during the first lockdown in 2020 caused by the global pandemic invasion. “I only had the time to flesh them out when the world ground to a halt,” Eloise points out. “… To be honest, I found them all easy to write. … I had had enough time to sit with the feelings and indulge in them, that when it came to writing the songs, the sentiments had become my native language.”
Previously calling Somewhere In-Between “my love letter to love and its woes,” Eloise apparently won’t let anything get lost in translation — including her emotions — when writing a song, sad or otherwise.
“I have been so lucky in my experience of loving and being loved so far, but that doesn’t make the heartache that comes with leaving a love behind any easier,” she states. “… I think I’m no more scared by love than the next person, I just experience it on such a high frequency that I HAVE to write about the feeling or it can’t be set free.”
She devoted the most time writing “Intertwined”, but that didn’t take more than an hour, according to Eloise, who notes, “I knew, when I wrote the initial idea, that it was going to be my favorite song and, more importantly, that it was imperative that I articulated the feeling correctly … and thus I felt a lot of pressure around the writing of it.”
Demonstrating a lighter touch, “Intertwined” is reminiscent of past Aimee Mann-Jon Brion collaborations, as Eloise’s lovely lyrical delivery and Major’s mellotron convey that a hopeful future may still be possible for the song’s subjects.
Could you keep loving me / It’s all that gets me to sleep these days / Just the idea that maybe you’ll wait
And while the majority of her material might suggest otherwise, Eloise’s own fall-in-love story seems quite uncomplicated, uplifting, and, without getting too personal, satisfying.
“As far as my ability to fall in love goes … I find it incredibly easy. I have found that love takes many shapes, and I certainly have no trouble with falling at the drop of a hat!” she proudly volunteers. “But I think one has their own measure/definition of what ‘falling in love successfully’ means. I currently have a boyfriend whom I’ve been with and loved for three years now and I’d call that a success!”
Bringing on Major to produce her two projects “was the easiest decision to make,” Eloise proclaims. “He is my musical twin and we can share our thoughts and ideas without saying a word. For me, he creates a safe space for good and often bad ideas from me production-wise! Also, he is one of my closest and dearest friends in the world and I couldn’t imagine anyone I would want to share the making of a project with more than him.”
The 32-year-old Major, whose jazz leanings took him from session guitarist at age 16 to proficient-playing concert headliner by 2018, has an appreciation for the Great American Songbook, composers like Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and “all the guys who wrote the big show tunes,” according to his artist bio.
That obviously fits in well with the jazz-tinged approach to some of Eloise’s latest songs, including snap-happy “Hungover” and moody-blue “Who’s She”. The latter tune, a heart-breaking-up lament that debuted on May 21 (with innovative classical musician Naomi McLean on cello), is also Eloise’s latest music video in which a couples’ frisky dance (her partner is played by Jakub Franasowicz) ends forlornly. The opening verse tells the story:
Hold me baby / I’ve been feeling / Lonely lately / I said I missed the old me / But who’s she anyway
In addition to writing and arranging every song, Eloise handled all the vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards while Major played guitars, drums, synths and more last summer at his old studio in East London.
“When we press play and sit back after the finishing touches and listen to the song start to finish, we feel all the same things, good or bad,” Eloise says of their recording experience.
Major’s voice can even be heard on the intro to “Trick of the Moon”, as the throwback club host introducing an enchanting, emerging star, bringing to mind those classic MGM musicals from a bygone era. Cue the applause sign.
“A lot of the time, when I write songs, I have the video/movie scene in mind. Without giving too much away (because we might make the video!), I really wanted to re-create the feel/scene of a retro open mic night in the ‘50s in New York,” Eloise declares about the song’s added elements.
The lyrics paint a picture drenched in cinematic flourishes:
No more black and white movie nights / We know them well enough to recite all the lines / No more howling like a wolf till I crawl back in your room
Calling 2020 “one of the most chaotic and peaceful years of my life so far,” Eloise can feel fulfilled while moving forward this year after using an otherwise frightful period for the rest of the world to her advantage.
“Emotionally, I was all over the place, and in that sense, my songwriting totally benefited!” she explains. “I think career-wise, I found it really crucial. I was always going to be writing in the time that I did but the lockdown meant I had all the time and space in the world to do that to the fullest. I think some of my best work is on this record and I think that is solely down to the time I had throughout the first lockdown.”
Plans for the immediate future include touring “as much as the pandemic will allow at this time,” continues Eloise, whose next live show is July 5 at Lafayette in London. “I miss it too much but it’s such a risk at the moment planning anything wild like a tour.”
The next logical step on her career path is a full-length album “whether I’m touring or not so at least I have that to sink my teeth into.” Eloise admits she previously wasn’t quite ready to make that move, although there are “a countless amount of songs” stockpiled for such a project.
“I have such a set idea of what my debut [full-length] album is to be like,” she maintains. “My first EP and this mini-album are little clusters of songs that I’ve gathered up over the last few years, but I want to set a very specific intention when I write my first album. I can’t tell you what that intention is yet because I don’t know. … I need as much more experience as I can get in this life at my age before I put my flag in the soil with my first album.”
Whether that results in growing or maturing as an artist isn’t on her mind at the moment, though.
“I think my appeal to the people that like my music is that I share my experiences of being in and out of love. … Musically, because I’ve been listening to different artists since making the first EP, I have evolved but I guess it’s up to the people to decide whether I’ve ‘grown’ or not,” Eloise exclaims. “As far as I’m concerned, I feel I’m writing from uncharted waters and that’s the best place to write new music from. One step out of your comfort zone.”
Perhaps she’s setting the stage to eventually reach that maturation point, and join other one-named wonder women like Adele, Dido, Sade and (maybe a blast from the past?) Lulu who broke the UK mold to become internationally renowned.
Now’s the time to pass the torch. With Somewhere In-Between, Eloise just might have a firm enough grip to grab that guiding light and set the world on fire.
Eloise Takes a PopMatters PopQuiz
How do you occupy your time when it doesn’t involve music (including any day jobs)?
Eloise: Honestly, I live and breathe music, so if I’m not playing it, I’m listening to it but really I watch films for video ideas and just romantic indulging. I don’t have a day job but the further I go into the industry, the more of a full-time “job” it is, although such a joy.
What hidden talents or new hobbies did you discover during the lockdown?
Eloise: I found that when I stop being self-conscious, I’m a decent/good cook and baker. I also started boxing and dare I say it … I’m pretty good!
Which hobbies and other interests excite you the most?
Eloise: [Besides boxing], learning challenging piano pieces to exercise my brain. I do also love having a cosmopolitan and a cigarette at the end of a day, and yes I would call that a hobby.
What’s something about yourself that most people don’t know? Any deep, dark secrets that you would like to reveal for the first time?
Eloise: I’m a pretty open book, to be honest. … I mean I was in a circus in France for a bit as a trapeze artist when I was 6! But that’s more of a fun fact rather than a secret.
What is your most significant accomplishment thus far, professionally and/or personally?
Eloise: Professionally: Playing a set in New York… I had spent my whole childhood daydreaming about the day I would sing in New York like all my favorites did, and it felt like I blinked and all of a sudden, I was singing my heart out in the Big Apple!
Personally: Moving into my first flat and being able to pay my own rent with the money I made from my music. … I still can’t quite believe I can do that.