Award winning songwriter and vocalist Ela’s new single “Light It Up” will make a lot of converts among first time listeners. Belying the city’s reputation for purist minded country or post modern rock, Austin, Texas based Ela couples long standing songwriting fundamentals with thoroughly modern language, sound, and attitude. Her emphasis on establishing a groove for “Light It Up” sets an early tone. The rhythm section throws down the groundwork for everything that follows and the mix is note perfect even with the addition of acoustic guitar.
Ela takes a deliberate approach towards “Light It Up”. She is no rush for the song reveal itself within the first minute and, instead, unfolds it for listeners in a way sure to keep many on the edge of their figurative seats. The gradual release of that tension is one of the highlights of this cut. She does all of this within a condensed time frame and leaves nothing to chance – every lyric line, vocal, beat, and musical note is placed with cool precision.
She uses synthesizers during “Light It Up”, but their presence isn’t constant. They provide many flourishes along the way and are particularly effective when the song slows for its chorus. This is where her voice, as well, scales taller heights than ever before. Ela’s voice has a bit of post-production effects manipulating its sound, but the raw muscle of her vocal instrument comes through nonetheless.
It isn’t a song looking to make substantive statements or remake the songwriting wheel. This is simply a call to realize the moment, crafted with familiar language, and benefitting from a cracking dance oriented arrangement. It is a transplanted sound to be sure – one can imagine how Ela brought a vision for this sort of music with her from the San Francisco area to Austin, Texas and the likely outsized effect it has had over the latter scene.
Her voice has a little grit and gravel in its tone that makes her exhortations even more convincing. She sings like someone possessed with the moment, determined to throw her full body into the vocal, and that approach supercharges “Light It Up” with energy it otherwise wouldn’t have. Ela has written and recorded quality material before this single, but her new release is by far a moment when you can hear a new level of inspiration fueling her work.
“Light It Up” is everything you want it to be. It pops, pulses, and flashes with raw musical electricity and packs a tight punch connecting from your first listen. Ela is setting Austin on fire for a reason – there are few talents there or elsewhere who bring searing emotional authenticity, on target music, and irresistible pop textures together in the same song. It will likely rank among the high points of her 2019 and sets a standard for her work going forward to her that I have total confidence she can match and soon exceed. Ela’s “Light It Up” will put spring in your step and make you smile.