Jonathan Ellinghaus
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Jonathan Ellinghaus

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Prepare to lose your heart, to convert, to sign zee papers: Jonathan Ellinghaus will cause you to Leave It All Behind willingly. He is that good.

Label owner and producer Blake Morgan dared to dream of a company that created a home for musical artists. Jonathan Ellinghaus (and we listeners) are the happy beneficiaries of this revolutionary dream, and Leave It All Behind is the sweet fruit. Morgan’s minimalist recording philosophy casts only three multi-instrumentalists for this CD - Ellinghaus (vocals, acoustic guitar, drums), Mike Errico (lap steel, acoustic, electric guitars), and Blake himself (bass, keyboards, background vocals) - and to say it succeeded beautifully is to redefine the art of understatement. What this course has done is create a direct, unhampered path between the listener and the song itself.

In these musical gems for the unafraid and the thoughtful, Ellinghaus tells stories of living and relating, shrinking back from none of the more challenging issues. The title cut leads off, setting the stage for these songs of great intimacy and life truths tenderly wrapped in warm, sparse production.

Ellinghaus’ vocals soar over the sparkling interplay of guitars and, while his range is not enormous, the beauty flows from his profound sincerity, fitting his stories like a homespun glove. This comes across almost as an anointing of sorts when applied to songs like “Four Faces” and the glorious “Losing Faith,” songs of honest sharing, of brave disclosure. The sparse acoustic instrumentation of “Losing Faith” only serves to strengthen the power of his questions.

Ellinghaus is a gifted storyteller, and this impeccably-produced project plays perfectly to this potency. See the beautifully layered “Camouflage” for the full effects of this collaboration. Take special note of the interesting minor chords of the tenderly exhilarating “Joy” as Ellinghaus attempts to “describe the indescribable, trying to explain the unexplainable.”

“Saltwater Breeze” is a stunning closer and possibly the place where Ellinghaus’ gifts shine brightest. How do three guys get this full sound, at once so clamorously life-affirming, so powerfully joyous, in a song seemingly so benign, a song appearing to be simply about the ocean? It’s in the passion, flowing from the hearts of the composer and artists. You can’t manufacture this stuff. Jonathan Ellinghaus brings the real deal, a stellar debut.

Kevan Breitinger - INDIE-MUSIC.COM


"EDITOR'S PICK" - This album just might be the inspiration that Michael Stipe turns to when he wants to explore a more singer/songwriter feel. With calculated measures to spruce up the production by Blake Morgan, while at the same time leaving incredible amounts of spaces, Jonathan Ellinghaus turns in one stellar debut. Relying on a vocal as bald and shiny as his own head, he musters a sincere coffeehouse touch that has studio goodness that will make aspiring artists as well as well-rooted performers turn their head to listen and approvingly nod along, taking their own notes to recreate magic just as worthwhile.

- J-Sin - SMOTHER.NET


Discography

Leave It All Behind - EP

Photos

Bio

On Jonathan Ellinghaus' Engine Company debut, the quiet push and pull of human transformation is set against the volatile backdrop of the east coast seascape where he grew up, and still resides ("I’ve come a long way to be with you/I’ve survived a storm of sacrifice, 'You Win'"). Songs roil with hopeful hellos, confused goodbyes, hard exits and harder entrances. His characters move cautiously and thoughtfully, torn by the strange way that actions can be both a positive and a negative force simultaneously. Like Chris Whitley or Sea Change-era Beck, the ghosts of the great singer-songwriters are invoked, but in a modern way that seems to stretch the definition of the term. Jonathan embraces the irony of his choice of debut album title. "We have to navigate contradictions over and over in life. To arrive somewhere new and better, sometimes one has to…well…" he flashes a warm, self-effacing smile, "leave it all behind. You know?”

In order to honor the directness of the writing, producer Blake Morgan devised a minimalist recording philosophy that included a cast of only three multi-instrumentalists – Jonathan (drums, vocals, acoustic guitar), Mike Errico (lap steel, acoustic, electric guitars), and himself (bass, keyboards, background vocals). "It’s a 16-track record," explains Blake, "and I wanted to utilize this limitation we put on ourselves to the fullest. There is only a straight path between the listener and the song itself." Recording legend Phil "Butcher Bros." Nicolo (Fugees, Pete Yorn, Urge Overkill, etc.) provided the final polish by mastering the record at Philadelphia's famous Studio 4. The result is a recording of intimate songs wrapped in warm, sparse production that pulls the depth out of the songwriting, not the recording studio.