REVIEW: Elly Hoyt – Oranges & Sunshine

Elly Hoyt takes no prisoners. Her voice, her singing, her phrasing, her presence – everything about her is so commanding and captivating, that one should feel sorry for the unsuspecting listener, who presses ‘play’, unable to imagine the emotional roller coaster about to unfold. Resistance is useless. Elly Hoyt will have you for breakfast, if she feels like it.

This is obvious from the first bars of ‘Blackbird’, the track that opens her new album, Oranges & Sunshine: accompanied by the crisp-sounding trio of Scott Griffiths (piano), Jonathan Zion (bass) and Darryn Farrugia (drums) she attacks the Lennon-McCartney standard with confidence and fervour and a strong sense of groove that allows the song to burst like some sort of sonic popping candy.

Half of the album consists of standards, which she approaches with this kind of refreshing playfulness, often deviating from their original mood: the usually uptempo and fizzy classic ‘My baby just cares from me’, for instance, acquires a kind of dreaminess about it, while ‘Nature boy’ has never before been sung with aggression. Such surprises are always round the corner, as Hoyt never shies away from letting her talents – and her amazing vocal range – unfold: one minute she sings the blues with a visceral quality, her voice firmly rooted to the ground; the next, the same voice ascends to the sky, taking the listener with it, as is the case with most of the ethereal ballads that she composed. These are the most dangerous. You start listening to them and the next thing you know, you’re sitting on a cloud.

Consider yourselves warned.