Review Summary: A bit of The Beatles, a bit of Steely Dan turns into a power pop/jazz-pop combination.
When an artist is compared to The Beatles, even in passing, it is often like a kiss of death for them. It is a damn tough comparison, and what you usually get to hear is nowhere near anything The Beatles have done, or it just sounds like a slavish copy of the original. Nothing wrong with either of those possibilities, but the artist in question usually suffers.
So far, Fort Wayne Indiana singer/guitarist Damon Mitchell got compared to The Beatles and particularly Paul McCartney, so he and his EP “Elise” will probably suffer more scrutiny than if he was compared to almost anybody else who ever stepped on the music scene.
He shouldn’t be. Not because he obviously did take some cues from “them”, particularly on the first two tracks here “Heist” and “Just A Face”, but because his record collection has a much broader selection than some might initially expect.
First of all, all that music that inspired Mitchell is done justice here, and that includes the ‘dreaded’ beetle people. Mitchell is somebody who possesses the right touch, good vocals, excellent guitar licks (“Salo” and the title track) and draws inspiration from other sources, like CSN&Y (aforementioned “Salo”), America, with whom he actually played at one point (“Licence Plate”), and Steely Dan at their jazziest (“World In Her Eyes”).
If there is any doubt for anybody who is suspicious before they take a listen, the list of guest players here might be an indication of what is going on, because the star session men like harmonica player Charlie McCoy and drummer Tris Imboden who played for the likes of CS&N and Chicago among others can easily choose their gigs and not play on a record of an up and coming artist.
To add to the positives here, Mitchell chips in six tracks clocking over 25 minutes, which is quite a hefty dose of music for an EP these days, where sometimes anything close to 10 minutes is labeled as an EP.
But the key with Damon Mitchell and “Elise” EP is that he has come up with good music that is certainly inspired by others but is in no way derivative, even of The Beatles to whom he is most compared to.