Guitarist Jay Elle releases New Album

Guitar-oriented rock has been seeing quite the revival this year, and I don’t think it’s solely because of the devastating effect the pandemic has had on the live circuit. While it’s true that people have been collectively missing the brash chest-pounding of a hard rock performance for the past two years, the desire for a guitar-driven singer/songwriter sound outside of the strictly acoustic community has been ongoing for the last five years at least, and players like Jay Elle are starting to answer the call in a way we just can’t afford to ignore in 2021.

Elle’s new record, Ride the Wave, is a culture-encapsulating disc that comes dangerously close to sounding both insularly personal and stoically ambitious at the same time, creating a contrast between the introspection and the commentary in the lyrics of songs like “Who’s Camille,” “She’s So Fine,” and “Insane” that just can’t be beaten. Emotional and unafraid to show it, this is a singer/songwriter who leans on his guitar and his swelling wit freely rather than because he has to, and right now, his new album is one of the most trustingly relatable you can get your hands on. 


“Twelve on Sunday,” “Tequila Kiss,” and “Miss Mess” show off a lot of depth that some might not expect out of a solo performer at this stage of their career, but I don’t think that musical muscularity was ever the major focal point in Ride the Wave. The literate lyricism of other songs like “Insane,” “Better Luck Next Time,” and the honest “Want Me Bad” is just too overwhelmingly memorable to not be the most important element of this record, bridging any gap between melodic intrigue and diary-like intimacy courtesy the lyricism that might have existed were someone else at the helm of this project. The warmth that Jay Elle has in his voice transcends any hook here and melds the best emotional points of the words with the body of the harmonies in “Rainy Day,” the title track, and “She’s So Fine” like nothing else could have, and even if it’s outside the boundaries of convention, I’d argue that all classics tend to be. 

Ride the Wave really is the epitome of what a good solo rock LP used to consist of once upon a time, and if players like Elle have their way, it’s going to be the standard in the industry once more. Though I wouldn’t accuse Jay Elle of trying to wear someone else’s skin in any of the songs here, he’s absolutely featuring his influences prominently in the presentation of this material, if not tipping his cap to the icons who laid the groundwork for a lot of post-alternative singer/songwriter movement he’s largely a part of right now. There is still a lot he needs to explore within himself and the music he’s making, but just going off of Ride the Wave, I’d say that he’s a lot closer to the summit than some of his peers are. This is a tremendous record, and premium listening whether you’re a newcomer or a longtime fan. 

Nicolle Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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