Mitchell wears inspirations on his sleeve with a certain expertise on ‘Elise’
Comparing yourself to The Beatles, or trying to capture the sound that made the Fab Four international icons is no small feat. The fact remains, as well, that many have tried but few have succeeded. Especially those who create their own songs that borrow from them rather than the artists who are simply tribute acts.
It’s a tightrope that’s not easy to traverse, but one that can be done. For the most part, Damon Mitchell succeeds in walking that path. On his new EP “Elise,” Mitchell delivers that Beatles-esque sound along with shades of Death Cab for Cutie, Neil Young and Steely Dan.
It also comes at a time right now where the retro sound is starting to gain traction. With bands like Greta Van Fleet and Cage the Elephant gaining mainstream recognition, it bodes well for Mitchell’s chances to become a breakout star.
The first two songs on the EP, “Heist” and “Just A Face” are also the strongest. The production value is superb, the lyrics go in places you’d expect songs like these to go, and the vocals are on point.
The piano, bass riff, and major chords on “Heist” in particular sets the tone early. You’ll know right away what Mitchell’s trying to do, and it’s a refreshing reminder that good music can cross multiple generations without losing any of its punch.
As much as I enjoy these songs, the slight flaws in Mitchell’s vocals start to appear on the next few tracks. While one doesn’t need to have perfect pitch to be a successful artist, it can take away from the enjoyment even a little bit.
The little secret that you never hear much in the music biz is that every artist has flaws, it’s just that some are better at hiding them than others. On the song “License Plate” for instance, Mitchell’s vocals are drawn out as almost a a spoken-word type feel, and it mitigates the ups and downs quite well, to the point where unless you’ve got an ear for noticing when pitch is off, if you’re a vocal coach, for instance, you probably won’t hear it. And the rest of the track is musically fantastic.
However, on the song “Salo” he goes for that Bob Dylan like feel, and it just doesn’t quite make it. Same goes for “World In Her Eyes” which doesn’t feel off until the hook. It’s also interesting that both songs seem to stray the farthest from the Beatles-type feel of all of the tracks, making me think that they were perhaps the more experimental tracks for Mitchell where he took a chance on something to push the limits of what he’s capable of doing.
As a creative person myself, I can respect that kind of courage, and it’s a trait that will continue to serve him well. Plus, in a world where anyone can throw down tracks filled with autotuned vocals and computer-generated music that’s guaranteed to sound catchy, it’s good to know that even people who might, in the eyes of some people, benefit from using these methods, go for the more honest approach to creating their art.
Mitchell also recently performed a guest guitarist/vocalist with America on their longtime hit, “Horse With No Name” and on the EP he’s joined by renowned drummer, Tris Imboden, who most notably played with the bands Chicago and Crosby, Stills and Nash. At just 22, he’s already making a name for himself and as a listener, it’s going to be exciting to see where he chooses to go next in his career as a musician.