Ellie Goulding Reclaims the Power: Reviewing ‘Brightest Blue’

Ellie Goulding releases new album

After a 5 year break from solo music, British pop star Ellie Goulding has made her landing on the pop music landscape. The singer released her 19-track album, ‘Brightest Blue’, earlier today. This project witnesses the reinvention of the pop star as we know her. 

The studio album features brand new tracks from Goulding along with some stellar, unlikely features by artists like ‘blackbear’, Juice WRLD, Lauv and more. Experimenting with ambient/ pop-rock production and the vulnerable telling of tales, Ellie strikes pop gold with ‘Brightest Blue’. 

The ‘Start’ of “Brightest Blue”

The introductory track aptly named, ‘Start’ – is a collaboration with experimental vocalist ‘serpentwithfeet’. The song gives you a taste of all that is to come. Creating repetition, mirroring the vicious cycle of a toxic relationship, ‘Start’ is the raw foundation that the entire album is built on.

Offering acoustic guitar riffs, a mellow R&B flow and experimental vocalisation, ‘Start’ is a refreshing surprise, designed to excite.

Prior to the release of the album, Ellie Goulding revealed that this collection of music follows her journey through one or a series of toxic relationships. On ‘Brightest Blue’, with the colours of each new song, Ellie paints a picture of some of the darkest times in her life.

Interestingly, the influence of Solange, Bon Iver and more (admittedly) are apparent.

And, in the vein of reclaiming the narrative, tracks like ‘How Deep Is Too Deep’, ‘Power’ and ‘Love I’m Given’ use writing to give listeners a glimpse into her world. The dance hall, disco pop track, ‘Power’ is the admission of the state of a toxic relationship, complete with realisations that the singer has had. And, if ‘Power’ is the admission, ‘Love I’m Given’ is the solution; the final reclamation. 

Goulding Explores Songwriting

Fortunately, the lyrically overwhelming series is broken up by unexpected and disarming interludes. The experimental ‘Cyan’ samples dialogue and dramatic crescendos. Mirroring musical themes of victory, the voice over says: “I only knew I would be the strongest version of what I was first given. The strongest dose of the love I was given. Sometimes, I had to trample with tears in my eyes, over the things I knew I couldn’t help. Until, I was strong enough to carry them with me instead.”

Interestingly, the second half of the album features shinier, sweeter versions of Ellie’s voice. With tracks like ‘New Heights’ and ‘Ode To Myself’, Goulding quickly pulls you towards the final crescendo – ‘Woman’.

And so, in what is perhaps her most honest reveal of the ‘woman’ she is, Ellie sings: “I faced my fears till I made it here/ Now I don’t know where to stand/ But I know it’s not over/ If I’m losing touch/ If I love too much/ I’ll just leave it up to chance/ That’s just the woman I am.” 

Ellie Goulding’s Reinvention

In addition, an interesting recurrence accompanies this album – Goulding’s journaling of her relationship with alcohol. While there are no explicit mentions of alcohol abuse, undertones and references to “magic potions” and alcohol in general are plenty in number. 

And so, ‘Brightest Blue’ serves up our first real look into her world. This album is a feat in songwriting and a substantive feather in Ellie Goulding’s cap. And while the project may not make its way to the top of every mainstream pop chart around the world, its bound to find a place in your moments of reflection and acceptance, if you let it. 

By: Ahalya Narayanan