EP Review: Eleri Ward – Friction

Friction is the new EP by New York-based singer songwriter Eleri Ward.

By Graeme Smith

The EP is about conflict – with yourself and with others. The theme is wrapped in warm, slightly experimental pop  and R&B vibes, a sound Eleri has formed from inspirations such as Caroline Polachek and Still Woozy.

It opens with Go Too Far, a breezy track with a delicate groove that feels introspective. The conflict is within. What stood out most for me, though, was the interesting vocal delivery. Verses pour out like a gushing, melodic stream of consciousness. The vocals are punctuated with vocalisations in the harmony that give the whole piece a wonderful sense of texture.

Second track More broadens the conflict theme out to an insecure relationship. It has a classic pop feel to it, a modernised version of a ’50s ballad complete with electric organ, finger clicks and hand claps. After a well-placed breakdown, it builds to an energetic and emotive climax.

Hologram slows things down as the pop energy is put aside for a few minutes. Thematically, it is similar to More but the mood shifts from pleading to despondence with an undercurrent of anger. Moving into the second half electronic bass beats kick in and there’s a sense of resolve. Eleri’s not putting up with it anymore.

This resolve is carried into I Don’t Want To Talk About It. It’s the EP’s f**k it moment, finding its freedom in letting go. Its stripped back opening evolves into an R&B rhythm after the first verse and Eleri’s vocals are particularly expressive. As a listener, I felt scolded!

After that cathartic moment, indecision creeps back in during EP closer Mess. It beautifully describes the human tendency to go for the wrong things and Eleri’s vocals perfectly express the duality of the feeling. There is frustration and pleasure in her delivery. It’s a bittersweet reminder that, in life, there isn’t always a happy ending.

Eleri’s emotional authenticity really makes Friction the great EP that it is. The tracks are well-written but the performance is everything. She captures emotional ambiguity without losing the clarity of her message and I found myself feeling along with her. It’s not an easy thing to do but Eleri nails it.

Friction is her second EP following the release of Prism last year. The EP was recorded in Brooklyn with producer Allen Tate. You can hear it below.