Hawaii via Liverpool’s rising star Eli Smart shares the highly anticipated “Aloha Soul” EP.“
In Hawaiian culture, there is the phrase kani ka pila – the invitation to jam together in your backyard. Its essence is rooted to the Hawaiian spirit itself: the way that music and its easy sense of community are irrevocably bound together. There might be two or three guitars, a scattering of ukuleles, a homemade washtub pakini bass, and someone on spoons to hold down the rhythm – a spontaneous, freeform blend of instruments until the small hours of the morning. This is the energy Hawaiian-born singer-songwriter Eli Smart seeks to capture in his second EP, Aloha Soul.
“It was a weird combination of escaping through music, while hopefully addressing some shit through it,” Eli explains of the EP. Converting his childhood bedroom into a studio, he invited Mercury Prize winning producer Gianluca Buccellati (Arlo Parks, Lana Del Rey, Biig Piig) to help bring these five sketches to life – the first time he had ever collaborated with a professional. In a suspended reality, they would fall into a sleepy, blissful routine of waking up, making their way to a friend’s bakery (where Eli has a bagel named after him), and begin writing songs together. The only interruptions would be interludes to jump in the water and surf, Eli’s twin passion: another way to escape the lethargic, circular rhythms of the day-to-day.
Together, Eli and Gianluca would blend today’s technology with an analogue mentality. They weren’t interested in producing immaculate sounds, but rather chased the timeworn crackles, an instrument’s whims, the rasp of Eli’s voice. It lends his music a quality that is altogether timeless, beholden to no single era, and yet evocative of all of them. Between rhythmic guitar and sugar-coated melodies, largely indebted to Eli’s adoration of The Beatles, you will also hear the sounds of Hawaii itself: falsetto harmonies, lap steel guitars, slide guitars and ukulele.
Recent single “See Through”, which was championed by NME is all scuzzy guitar solos and Eli’s now trademark falsetto underpinned by an irresistibly jangly rhythm section that shuffles you straight back to memories of sunshine.
Also appearing on the EP shared two gorgeous singles “AM to PM”, and “B-Side” which was quickly adopted by Jack Saunders & Gilles Peterson. Most recent single “Cry At The Comedy”, a raucous surf pop anthem has been a mainstay at late night BBC Radio 1, with Clara Amfo supporting heavily across the network.