On her new album Love Life singer-songwriter Tawny Ellis portrays the world as a place fraught with peril and filled with forces, both external and internal, that threaten to overrun us and do us harm at any given moment. Our only defense? Why, love of course, but not the fluffy kind that so many singer-songwriters sing about, for Ellis the love that will get us through is a tough, gritty, and vigilant entity that can never shy away from a fight.
On the lead song and titular track, Ellis performs a clever word trick – she is not singing about her amorous adventures or experiences as the title suggests, she is making a compassionate declarative statement to all of us – love life, as in having an affection for it brothers and sisters because its the only thing that can overcome the darkness that is constantly swirling around us and within us.
In the refrain, Ellis sings with her extraordinary voice full of resonance and soul “Love Life / You’ve got to find a silver lining / No escape from myself there’s no running / Behind the pain there is a light worth finding“ reminding herself and us that the love we feel for our existence here on this earth has to be clear-eyed and proactive lest we surrender to the endless and cruel cycle of pain that constantly threatens us.
With this theme and mantra established, Ellis proceeds to give us lyrical examples of the two over the other ten songs on this deeply introspective record. Other highlights include the seductive and clear-sighted “Pretend Love”, the tough-minded and determined “No More,” the heart-rending and sorrowful “Deep End Of Love,” and the most emotional song of the album, the gut-wrenching “Daddy,” in which Ellis finally comes to terms with her father’s suicide when she was a teenager.
It’s on this song that the record comes full circle as the now older Ellis forgives her father for the pain that his suicide has caused her, allowing her to fully feel the love she never stopped having for him. It is a song that is one of the most honest and brave songs that you will ever hear with a sentiment and lyrics that sear your emotions because you can hear in Ellis’ beautifully elegant voice the pain she is feeling and has felt while simultaneously hearing her lifelong resolve to make some kind of sense of it, so she can heal emotionally.
It is a perfect capstone to the record and a luminous example of the masterful talents of Ellis as an artist. Hers is a world that against the backdrop of it evaporating right in front of you, you have to grab life and love with all you have, knowing that there will be pain and heartbreak along the way. On these eleven songs, Ellis is telling us to grab it nonetheless and let love conquer the malevolence both outside and inside of us because it’s our only hope.
Love Life by Tawny Ellis on Music Building Records was co-produced by Ellis, Jesse Siebenberg, Ted Russell Kamp, and Gio Loria and will available on July 24 on her website .