If the singing voice is merely a vehicle for a melody, a means of putting across a verse, a bridge, a chorus, well, somebody forgot to tell Ellie Goulding.
As her debut album, Lights, made so thrillingly clear, Ellie uses her voice as a texture in much the same way that a skilled instrumentalist would. It is, in other words, a sound – in Ellie’s case, an utterly distinctive and unforgettable one – that can play as important a role in her songs as any other musical detail. Cascading, dovetailing, soaring, swooping, Ellie’s layered vocal parts bring a haunting complexity to songs that often come from relatively uncomplicated origins: observations, memories and emotions that trigger a melody, a lyric, bare bones around which Ellie will then build musical and verbal narratives that are at once ornate and austere, passionate and enigmatic.
Never likely to be one of those singers who is content just to turn up, lay down a main vocal part and leave, Ellie’s approach to writing and recording is, she admits, borderline obsessive – but then, anything less, she says, would be a waste of time.