Nothing I See Means Anything is the new concept album from New York City, USA-based experimental artist Elly Kace. Inspired by Kate Bush, Björk and Lady Gaga, in it Elly attempts to push boundaries like those who have come before her.
By Graeme Smith
Feature Photo by Ryan Rivard
The album’s journey started as the pandemic did last year. At the time, Elly was set for a career as an opera singer in Europe but quickly had to leave Italy to return home to New York as the pandemic began to rage. She turned to meditation to help with the disappointment of the delayed chance with one mantra standing out to her more than anything. That became the title of the album.
The album starts slow and reflective. Opening track Are You Ready? sets the scene with gentle electronic beats, strings and percussion that invokes a spiritual journey. The centrepiece though is Elly’s ethereal vocals, layered and with a subtle power. She signals the start of the journey by declaring “the only way out is through”, signposting the emotional struggle to come.
Then comes the album’s focal track Nothing which distils the feeling of pain and makes it audible. Distinctly contemporary, it also dwells on subjects such as addiction, loss and the male gaze. Deep topics such as these could be a little dense for the casual listener but Elly’s presentation remains entirely approachable throughout.
Following it is I, a track that acted as an introduction to Elly’s music for me when it was released earlier this month. It shows a gentler, more uplifting moment in her emotional journey, the vocal harmonies invoking a warm support network.
The journey continues through the textured and operatic See, the dark and moody Means and the brightly acoustic Anything. At the point in the record, the mantra is complete but Elly still has a lot to say. Track seven is Meditation. It reinforces the album’s theme through an ambient instrumentals and spoken word vocals.
As well as pushing boundaries, Elly also brings classic styles and song writing influences in Nothing I See Means Anything. This is typified by the Carole King-inspired Bless which has an easy-listening folk feel. Elly’s vocals are also particularly exceptional on this track.
The folky vibe continues into Them, a collaboration with McMillen Kakacek, which builds to a dramatic climax. Then comes All, jazzy, soulful and philosophical. The album then closes with Wild Things, a track that brings together both the classic and experimental electronic threads expertly. The closing message is: whatever life throws at you, just do your best. I think we can all take solace from that message.
You can listen to Nothing I See Means Anything below.