Going into Elle King’s show at The Drake Hotel, I knew her primarily for ‘Ex’s and Oh’s,’ which is played ad nauseam on the radio these days. Good song, I thought to myself when I first heard it. Cool voice, too.
But there’s a lot more to Elle King than a radio hit. She’s the confluence of a lot of important musical influences, and she wears them really well. She’s listed Etta James and Otis Redding as role models in the past, but you can hear more than them in her music. You can hear Lucinda Williams and Johnny Cash; you can hear the old rock and roll and country coming through in her big voice and off of the stage through her presence.
There’s a raw talent there as much as there is a sharp, seasoned performer. She’s been at this a while, despite her age, and its telling. She’s a natural, and her ability on a variety of instruments – including the banjo, which she played expertly during ‘Good To Be A Man’ showcases that.
Musicianship is one thing, though. Personality is another entirely, and Elle King has that, too, in spades. Being the daughter of Rob Schneider has got to have a few perks, and a knack at being comfortable onstage telling jokes is definitely one of those. There’s a confidence and an ease and a charisma there that you don’t find in many performers; I’ve seen lots of front men shy away from breaks in between songs. Not Elle King; she embraces them.
It’s refreshing to me to see a young performer like her, who could so easily be taking the easy way out and doing commercial hit after commercial hit, to be writing good music, and to be pulling from influences as varied and as important as hers.
The venue was perfect for her, too. Small room, intimate, personal; exactly what you want as an audience member, and exactly what you want as a performer when you’re playing music that matters.
‘Ex’s and Oh’s’ is catchy as all hell, but it was the rest of the show, and the rest of her debut album, Love Stuff, that really showcases what a natural talent Elle King is. Check her out next time she’s around. She’s pretty awesome.