Material: Lexington, KY’s self-proclaimed groovalutionary ellee ven is clearly a talented woman with a vague idea about where she wants to go musically. That she’s still on-route and hasn’t quite figured out all of the twists and turns yet is not to be admonished. Rather, we get to enjoy the journey with her, and isn’t the journey a good portion of the fun?
Ven tells us that she’s been working heavily with DJ Swamp, and that has led her further into the world of dancehall and drum & bass. There are certainly elements of those things in the music she performed at this show, but make no mistake, tunes like “Under My Skin” and “Sun Up” are pop songs first and foremost. The fact that she cites Goldfrapp, Sade and Portishead as influences on her website is telling, and the rap breaks by Prodeje add a welcome edge, as ven’s vocals are so sweet. The balance between the two is vital.
Musicianship: In Joey Giachello and Freekbass, ven has a rhythm section that provides the perfect spine to her reggae-influenced pop. They do everything right, and Freekbass in particular is extremely watchable as he negotiates his instrument effortlessly.
Antony Lee is also a tough guy to take your eyes off of; the guitarist smiles and pulls faces throughout the set, and his playing is exemplary, adding the reggae-esque fills as the songs require them, but also providing the rhythm. Prodeje is the final element, a supremely talented and razor sharp rapper, an ideal counterpoint to ven.
Performance: Kulak’s Woodshed is an unusual venue, the first sign of which being the big bed in the middle of the room. The performances here are live-streamed, adding a slightly weird “in the studio” vibe. The crowd for this show was modest, but then you never know how many people are watching at home. So ven is the consummate pro—all beaming smiles, and singing as if she’s at the Palladium. The between-song anecdotes are witty and informative too.
Summary: ellee ven is far from the finished article, but then she would probably be the first to admit that. What she has is bags of potential, and a desire to experiment with genres to an almost manic degree. There’s certainly the possibility for commercial success in there somewhere. For now, ven and her band are enjoying themselves, as they should be.
The Players: ellee ven, vocals; Antony Lee, guitar; Freekbass, bass; Joey Giachello, drums; Prodeje, rap vocals.
ellee ven - "Sun Up"
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