When Elles Bailey first came out of Bristol she made a rapid name for herself as a top class voice and songwriter, initially in the Americana and Blues vein but since straying into soul as well.
Her second album ‘Road I Call Home’ was released earlier in the year and so far it has been a massive success with the album making a solid entry in the UK Country and Americana charts, hitting #1 on the Amazon Blues bestseller chart and gaining over a million streams.

This album is designed as a companion to the original album and includes a few new tracks, different ‘live in the studio’ takes of tracks from the album and a couple of acoustic versions of songs from the album.
“For me,” Elles reflects, “Blacktop Companion marks the continuation of this epic Road I Call Home adventure that I have travelled for the last year or so and it tells a lot more of the story! It also highlights my incredible live band who have toured this record with me, and I am so grateful for their talents, humour and for just being wonderful human beings!'
Elles Bailey's live band are: Joe Wilkins - Guitar, Matthew Waer - Bass, Jonny Henderson - Organ and Matthew Jones - Drums

So, as a companion, it should stand or fall by its relationship to the original release but to be honest I tried to separate it from the original and on that basis I found it a terrific listen. As a companion album it adds a certain something as well so if you have ‘Road I Call Home’ then this is pretty well essential listening.

The album kicks off with a number she has been playing live, John Prine’s ‘Angel From Montgomery’, but that never appeared on her albums. It is beautifully presented, slow and intense with a real smoky atmosphere. The interplay between her electric piano, Jimmy Nichols keyboards and Chris Leuzinger's guitar is perfect for the song and her voice has a perfect smokiness to it.

‘Devil Comes Knocking’ sits deep in the Americana side of her music and the other new song ‘Fall Under Your Spell’ takes the album out with a soulful country number that has a really anthemic feel to it.

The two acoustic numbers are a bit of a surprise. She has done ‘Medicine Man’ live as a full band number and it appears that way on the ‘Road I Call Home’ album but stripped down as an acoustic piece it takes on a totally different persona – more dark and threatening, it really hits the spot. The other acoustic track is ‘Miss Me When I’m Gone’, also from the album and it takes a more personal note as an acoustic.

The ‘live in the studio’ tracks have a great band feel and go a long way to explaining just why she is such a popular live performer and how she has been gaining higher and higher slots at the festivals around the UK & Europe.

If you have ‘Road I Call Home’ this serves as a superb companion but if you don’t then this stands in its own right.

The album is only available from https://www.ellesbailey.com/