Eleanor, the Troubadour

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Remember that feeling you have about your younger sibling? An entangled combination of annoyed pride; a jealous desire to protect coupled with unending frustration; hesitant love, heavily veiled in tongue-in-cheek hatred? Maybe you’ve only got older brothers, or no siblings at all; instead, picture that family friend you used to go on vacation with. The one who considered your parents house home, who called your parents “mom and dad” as much as you did. Hold that feeling close to your heart, smile at the nostalgia of it, and take the few minutes to stop and listen to Taylor Holden and the Law of Averages’ powerful new single, Eleanor.

After spending countless hours on stage (and offstage) with Taylor and her endlessly shifting troupe of troubadours; after spending at least four thousand kilometres (and back again), resting my head on the side of her van; after hearing her bright, sing-song voice nagging my hungover brain out of a cloudy fog of bourbon every morning at six, I can’t help but admit that I feel those “little sister” feelings for Taylor, and I couldn’t be happier to have the privilege to review Eleanor, my favourite song The Law of Averages have ever written.

Released about a month ago on June 13th, Eleanor – produced by my friend and bandmate Richard Gracious and performed by what I finally believe to be a solidified lineup for The Averages, featuring Mountain of Wolves’ own Michael Middleton on bass – is a bright, hopeful reminiscence on touring, travel and a love for music. Coupled with an elegant story of a fictionalized historical figure seeking an escape into the life of an artist, Eleanor takes on an auditory energy that I believe The Law of Averages has lacked in the past. Taylor and her incredibly talented and perfectly pleasant bandmate, guitarist/vocalist Charlie Weber, have always blended effortlessly to create a happy, hopeful energy, but Eleanor has managed to transcend that vibe and grow into something bigger and more important. This song sounds exciting, thanks in large part to the addition of Mason VanGaalen on bass (for live performance and future endeavors) and Alex Thoms on drums, who support Taylor’s songwriting well and who’s strength – both as players and sonically – was missing from an otherwise stellar lineup.

I’ve always equated Taylor Holden’s voice to that of Nate Ruess of Fun. or, if you were an early 2000’s scene kid like I was, The Format. Like Nate, Taylor shows massive emotional control and vocal range on Eleanor, her voice growing from a pre-teen warble as the song begins to a dense caterwaul during the song’s signature hook – a round on the lyrics “Eleanor the troubadour, take my hand and spin me around some more.” The rest of the band effortlessly supports her voice; in particular, Charlie’s harmonica intro and shimmering acoustic guitars shine in spotlights of their own.

Eleanor sought freedom, joy and music as a figure, and Eleanor finds it as a song. A feel good hit with just the right touches of sadness, an emotional mirror to the tumult of touring, Eleanor makes you realize that despite the bad parts, life might just end up being a lot of fun.

– Will O’Donnell

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