Ego Ella May : Fieldnotes, Pt. II
We are all moving in slow motion still, after well, you know. Ego Ella May (pronounced “Eh-go”), the British-Nigerian mood enhancer-by way of voice, pen, and whatever else resides in that Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year tool bag she uses. That raspy vox humana never gets raised past 6. It compels listenership, believers in love, and classic/modern soul philosophers, to get real close and cozy. Hanging on to those vibes, feeling, chi, energy—she uses it all in the slowest of spurts to generate this endearing hopefulness. And that’s really cool. I like my good vibes to last; more bang for your better day, you know? It’s a get-down I can function with these days.
Fieldnotes, Pt II, the second part to this peerless hangout, could really give a damn about a pandemic. May is in her element, fashioning that jazz and contemporary R&B pastiche into full-on Soulquarian territory. Nothing but neo-soul patina backing up whimsical, breathless articulation. Living in that easy pace tempo for the wondrous enunciation dorks who want to know exactly what this wordsmith is putting in the air. Let me condense the succinct: She’s been through it. And still chooses up over down. As admirable as that may be, on Fieldnotes II, Ego Ella May—while deeply personable about her rendezvouses with tenderness and connection—operates from her own rule book. Win or lose.
“Introvert Hotline” deals out the Badu meets Yazmin Lacey attitude so desperately needed in order to control a situation. May is in for a new change, a positive one, but it’s on her terms. “The introvert hotline, nobody’s answered in a while, the only rule, don’t call me, I’ll text you” is voiced with a smirk, but it’s real as supply chain shortages. Don’t test it. “Centered” takes all the likes and retweets without troll number one. Built off this swoony R&B audio verse, May talks about her partner being all she could want. The girl can’t help but brag cause the catch seems to complete her. Sorry, Jerry Maguire, it fit.
Who knew such a cliched plight had the stuff of posey mysticism. Ego knows her influences cold and pays proper respect to them while making a great song extend deep into vaulted earworm districts. It’s a masterstroke of appreciation by way of musicianship. In referencing Joni Mitchell’s “Centerpiece”, from the immortal 1975 Hissing of Summer Lawns, the song infuses new interpretations by way of millennial inventiveness to transpose Joni’s chorus into the stuff of elysian rapture. Way beyond a mood, it’s a slo-mo head nod sesh anybody could rock with.
Fieldnotes ll comprises five tracks. In some others handling it might seem truncated, like a quick-holdover until some full album appears. We all know it was pandemic created. But if you’re familiar with the resume, remember the Honey For Wounds debut, netting the “Best Jazz Act” award at the 2020 MOBO Awards, May creates languid projects that you can’t help but return to incessantly. This second edition, a densely packed EP, operates like your fave weighted blanket, you just can’t get enough of due to its ability to cover you up, from nose to foot.
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to Treble since 2018. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in The Wire, 48 Hills, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK and Drowned In Sound.