Ellen Tipper
Gig Seeker Pro

Ellen Tipper

Appleton, Maine, United States

Appleton, Maine, United States
Band Folk Acoustic


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""...the songs Tipper writes are immediate and timeless..." February 8, 2011"

When I heard that Ellen Tipper had released a brand new CD, I was ecstatic, but when it came time to put it into my player I was a bit nervous.

You see, I really loved her debut 2007 album "Flanagan's Field" and was unsure she could top such an incredible piece of work - I needn't have worried. Her sophomore album - "The Juggler" - has everything I liked in the first release and more. The songwriting is sharper and more compelling, her sweet voice has a warmth and compassion that is palpable, and the backing musical support is diverse and tasteful...in short, a highly entertaining and enjoyable listen! I'm constantly struck by her piano chops (she reminds me a bit of Liz Story in that capacity) and when coupled with an incredible melodic sensibility, the songs Tipper writes are immediate and timeless, much like the work of David Mallett and Gordon Bok ("Dig Down Deep" being a prime example).

The infusion of jazz and classical elements meld well with the folk singer/songwriter base that comprises her compositions, while the inherent grace and poise Tipper embodies makes the Appleton resident a force to be reckoned with here in Maine (and hopefully the rest of the country). I love ALL the songs on this release, but my favorites include "Don't Want You to Know," the title track, the bluesy "Keep it Raw," "Already Gone," "Caroline" and the album closer "Camden Market." Hats off to producer, multi-instrumentalist, recorder and mixer John Kurgan and his Mt. Desert based studio, Birdsong, for superb sound quality.

- Lucky Clark - Kennebec Journal

""Impressive...44 minutes of bliss...nominated for CD of the Year""

Maine-based songstress Ellen Tipper's 2010 release “The Juggler” is a breath-taking and beautifully crafted album full of sensitivity, warmth and charm. By the time I’d got through the first three songs, Ellen’s sweet and delicate voice had me captivated, so much so that I’ve had this CD on ‘repeat’ ever since. This is 44 minutes of bliss. A simmering melting pot of styles, touching on various genres, yet the distinctive voice, minimalist arrangements and thoughtful piano threads through the track list, keeping all the flavors tied nicely together.

The impactful “Caroline” has a delicate poignancy with the piano and cello set as counterpoints. Tipper builds tension with the rhythm of her lyric tripping lightly over her romantic piano melody. The subtle melancholy of each verse is beautifully contrasted as the song builds and climbs into each chorus. Tipper’s words are sufficiently vague to leave you pondering about the back-story. The title track “The Juggler” is an intimate and personal portrait of the singer-songwriter. The sprawling metaphor throwing up images of circus-life and performance pressure. It’s not that hard to make the connection to the difficulties of the modern mother and homemaker balancing the needs of the family with her own passions for creativity. “Non La” is an ambitious song with its tricky rhythm and far eastern iconography, yet Tipper’s vocal glides effortlessly over the verses. Ned Ferm provides the tenor sax break and although totally appropriate it seems to be a little over-cautious and held back in the mix, which is a bit of a shame. “Don’t Want You to Know” is a beautiful ballad, exquisitely intimate and seemingly ultra-personal. I love the melancholy here. Incredibly, Ellen invites the listener right into her very heart and soul and the emotion here is deeply touching. The song is followed immediately and just as sensitively by “Turbulent Mind”. The stark intimacy here is both fragile and vulnerable, reminding me of Suzanne Vega. Which is ironic, because Ellen’s voice on “Rainy Monday” has a similar pure quality much like Vega’s – particularly in the verses.

It’s hard to find any weaknesses on this superbly polished production, however I could hear a little hiss on the noise floor of “Sweet Love”, “Non La“ and at the start of “Turbulent Mind”. These are, of course, very minor flaws in light of the crisp quality of this recording. John Kurgan has worked hard to ensure Ellen’s songs shine in the very best light. After a few listens through, I wondered about the track order. Not that “Sweet Love” is a weak song in any way, shape or form, but it seemed to be (for me at least) a strange choice for an opener.

Overall this is a very accomplished and impressive album, easily worthy of attention and interest from the music loving public. It’s the space within the arrangements and the gorgeous intimacy between performer and audience that makes the CD so special. Together with the production, which benefits enormously from John Kurgans expertise and his stance against current trends of squeezing the life out music with digital compression. I wonder if Ellen Tipper will ever tour the UK? If not I guess I will need to get myself up to Maine the next time I visit the United States. This is one hot act I really would need to see!

Neil Thomas - Indie Music Digest

""Tipper juggles several genres flawlessly on her second record" February 17, 2011"

"The Juggler" is the second release from singer/songwriter/pianist Ellen Tipper. It follows her 2007 debut, "Flanagan's Field." I liked that record, and I love this one.

Having listened to little else for the past four days, I have absorbed the CD's 13 songs and offer these remarks: If music genres were found in a supermarket, Tipper wheeled her cart down the pop, country, folk, piano-ballad and Americana aisles, and made an impulse funky blues purchase with the song "Keep it Raw" at the register.

The first element that draws me to Tipper's sound is her voice. It's clear and engaging, and brings to mind Shawn Colvin with a little Tracey Thorn from Everything But the Girl occasionally mixed in. Next there's her piano. It's confident but not overbearing, reminding me of Carole King's work on "Tapestry."

"The Juggler's" second track "Caroline" is Tipper on piano with cello from Mai Bloomfield. It's a stirring composition. The title track comes next, and it's solo Tipper playing crystal-cut piano.

"Non La" is another standout track. With piano like low-grade thunder, Tipper sings it out, "Non La rides so slowly, she knows just where she wants to go/The wheels of her bicycle moving in time to a life that she knew long ago."

The stinging sad ballad "Don't Want You to Know" is yet another perfect Tipper moment. "It's well after midnight, a drink in my hand/I'm feeling this rock in my head turn to sand/but I don't want you to know." John Kurgan's subtle bass and Juan Condori's cello complement Tipper's piano superbly.

"Silk Purse" has the international flavor lent to Tipper by time spent in Asia and Africa doing public health work. "I'm gazing at the Buddha's eyes/I have a silk purse/She has some money in her hand, but is it just enough for rice?" asks Tipper, along with Geoff Wadsworth's bansuri flute, Mike Bennett's drums, Kurgan's bass, and chanting backing vocals from Jessie Holladay and Tipper herself.

There are a lot of songs to be excited about on "The Juggler" and with 13 to choose from it will be a challenge not to wrap your arms around several of them. "The Juggler" was produced, recorded, and mixed by John Kurgan at Birdsong in Mount Desert, Maine and is available for purchase at www.ellentipper.com, iTunes, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com.

- Aimsel Ponti - Portland Press Herald

"The Talented Ms. Tipper"

Pop in native Mainer and Appleton resident Ellen Tipper's new CD, Flanagan's Field, and relax to the clean sound of this classical pianist turned singer-songwriter. Combining the playfulness of Mary Chapin Carpenter, the quirkiness of Dar Williams, and the soul of Norah Jones, Tipper creates a sound that is at once melodic and moody, sweet and sultry. Throughout all of the songs, the piano is a strong presence, accompanied by Tipper's folky yet soulful voice. She enchants you with songs such as the title track about our need for quiet outdoor places, and a particularly catchy tune, "All in a Day." Ranging from upbeat to achingly emotional, Tipper's melodies and lyrics prove her to be a varied and talented artist and reflect the myriad personal and music influences she has experienced in her travels around the world. - Down East Magazine February 2008

"Maine artist blends piano, folk, jazz"

Maine singer-songwriter pianist Ellen Tipper plans a gig at the Shipyard Brew Haus in the Sugarloaf Inn on January 26. I contacted her and requested a copy of her latest CD, "Flanagan's Field," to review this week.

What I got was a delightful album of 11 tracks by a decidedly talented young lady with a wispy soprano and a sparse, yet highly emotive piano style. This music warms and entertains with a jazz-tinged folk/pop sound highlighted by a strong, yet subtle lyrical quality reminiscent of both Carole King and Sarah McLachlan. However, Tipper is her own person and this album displays that beautifully.

I was immediately struck by the melodic intimacy and purity of her voice as well as her powerful storytelling capabilities - especially on "Fatima," a song written about Tipper's experiences in an African village.

The rich rhythms that propel this story of intercultural interaction successfully capture the spirit of that place.

All in all, I'm impressed with Tipper, and I look forward to intervieiwing her in the coming months. - Lucky Clark - Kennebec Journal

"Flanagan's Field - "...clean, crisp, and elegant...""

With Flanagan’s Field, Maine-based pianist/singer/songwriter Ellen Tipper and her band have crafted a shimmering folk/pop hybrid. In her keyboard style, Tipper favors single notes over big chords, and this less-is-more philosophy makes the whole album sparkle. On songs like “Up and Down,” the simple trio of instruments allows Tipper’s voice to dance all over this bittersweet tale, especially on the memorable chorus.

“Strange Way” is the album’s irresistible opener. Tipper’s piano melody is catchy, drummer Alex Owre swings a nice groove, and Tipper’s vocal is fun and hopeful. “All In a Day” is just as hooky, Beatlesque and jazzy at the same time, a clever tale of making the best of daily pitfalls punctuated by Paul Story’s guitar.

Sandwiched in between these two bouncy numbers is the soulful, plaintive “Save Me.” Tipper closes the set with another soul stirrer, “Not This Time.” I would love to hear her do more numbers in this vein, although I’m also glad she included wisful cuts like the title track.

As a parent of a five-year-old, I like music that addresses the kind of life I live. “Crayons” is a jazzy, bluesy number about the wonders discovered by coloring with a child. Tipper languidly tosses out lines like “If the sky were pink and the earth were yellow/Do you think we would be more mellow?”

The most striking song on Flanagan’s Field is the hypnotic “Fatima.” Ezra Rugg’s bass and Owre’s drums anchor this tune, loping into and out of a pleasingly off-kilter chorus. Lyrics such as “She carried the woodpile high on her head” and “I sat in my mud hut swatting mosquitoes” are evocative and exotic.

Flanagan’s Field is clean, crisp, and elegant, On this winning effort, Tipper sounds at times wise like Carole King and at others earnest like Sarah MacLachlan. Yet Ellen Tipper comfortably and confidently molds these influences into a style of her own.

- Chip Withrow- Muse's Muse

"...sweet voice that has a Rickie Lee Jones feel..."

Another woman with a new record is local musician Ellen Tipper. "Flanagan's Field" is her latest creation, and I gave it a spin while driving to Easter brunch and then again while flopped on the futon a few nights ago.

Tipper is a classically trained pianist who has taken a shine to the singer-songwriter genre. "Flanagan's Field" is an entirely enjoyable record.

"Strange Way" sounds like spring with a vibrant piano presence and brushing percussion. "Save Me" is a soul-searching ballad with just Tipper's piano and vocals. Speaking of vocals, Tipper has a sweet voice that has a Rickie Lee Jones feel to it, and is bright yet soulful.

The song "All In a Day" looks at the sunny side of the daily grind, while "Play It Blue" is slow and jazzy, complete with saxophone from Martin Case.

Visit Ellen online at www.ellentipper.com.

Ellen Tipper. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Pine Crest Inn, 91 South St. (Route 114), Gorham. All ages. $10. (877) 474-6322, www.pinecrestmaine.com

- Mainetoday.com


The Juggler - full-length CD - December 2010
Flanagan's Field - full-length CD - November 2007



Billed as "one of Maine's finest female singer/songwriters," Ellen Tipper is mesmerizing audiences with the December 2010 release of her second full-length album, "The Juggler." The title track won Ellen a finalist spot in the Grassy Hill New Folk Songwriting Competition at the 2010 Kerrville Folk Festival and two other cuts from the album won Ellen an honorable mention in the 2010 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival songwriting competition.

Writes Cyrus Rhodes of Muse's Muse, "'The Juggler' is an amazing collection of music by Ellen Tipper...all pieces are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing its own signature groove... the vocal presence, amazing piano playing and songwriting abilities of Ellen Tipper just makes the whole thing work..." Writes Aimsel Ponti of the Portland Press Herald, "Tipper juggles genres flawlessly on her new CD...if music genres were found in a supermarket, Tipper wheeled her cart down the pop, country, folk, piano-ballad and Americana aisles, and made an impulse funky blues purchase with the song "Keep it Raw" at the register." Neil Thomas of Indie Music Digest adds "A simmering melting pot of styles, touching on various genres, yet the distinctive voice, minimalist arrangements and thoughtful piano threads through the track list, keeping all the flavors tied nicely together."

Ellen believes in supporting causes with music to raise awareness. Says Tipper, "The more we feel, the more engaged we become." "Already Gone," one of the tracks from "The Juggler" was produced as a single in support of the Human Rights and Sex Trafficking Film Forum sponsored by the Boston Initiative to Advance Human Rights. Ellen has also supported Cradles to Crayons, The Barka Foundation, Hardy Girls - Healthy Women - among many other organizations, at fundraising concerts and through CD sale proceeds.

Ellen has shared the stage with Dar Williams, Beth Wood, Liz Longley, Robby Hecht, Christopher Williams, Amerinouche, Anni Clark...

With Ellen's artistry named a "compelling, connective force," by L.A.-based pop music writer Dan Kimpel, she looks forward to building on the success of 2010 for a great year in 2011. As her fan base continues to grow, so does the anticipation of more music from this talented Maine-based artist.