“I would love to have girls everywhere dancing and singing along to this song in their bedrooms,” says Toronto-based vocal powerhouse Elise LeGrow about her single “No Good Woman.” “I think women of all ages can connect with this song.”
And she’s right. While the five songs that comprise the 24-year-old’s current EP have a lot in common with some of today’s biggest pop tracks, her voice in particular carries hints of highly-revered female singers who’ve emerged each decade since the ‘50s – from Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone through to current contemporaries like Mariah Carey and Adele.
Her development as a music fan has largely informed her development as a vocalist. Since clinging to the sticky pop sounds of Paula Abdul and Whitney Houston during her childhood years, her tastes have slowly travelled back in time, first to ‘60s and ‘70s classic rock as a pre-teen and later to classic jazz and early soul and R&B in her teen years, the latter of which she says had a very strong influence on her current musical mindset. “I started hearing the things I loved about Mariah and Whitney in the music from decades before,” she shares. “That was a big moment in my development.”
She began honing her talents singing in popular clubs in and around her home city, performing classic selections from the American songbook. It was during this formative period that her own voice really started to emerge: a happy marriage of all of her influences with a distinctive, modern twist all her own. Her evolution continued as she fine-tuned her songwriting abilities and poetic voice, netting her a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada and allowing her to elicit a wider array of emotions through her own material.
Tracks like the aforementioned single or the bouncy “RedHotFire” find LeGrow easily weaving her powerful and soulful singing through tastefully arranged melodies that’ll have hands clapping and toes tapping with ease; on the other hand, the laid-back, nice-and-slow groove of “Weed & Wine” or stripped-down ballad “In My Dreams,” co-written with Ron Sexsmith, offer a perfect complement to showcase what this born performer can do.
Aside from her collaboration with Sexsmith, the EP benefits from the Midas touch of songwriter/producer/engineer Tawgs Salter (Josh Groban, LIGHTS, The Midway State), who brought the lavishly layered arrangements to LeGrow’s vocal melodies. Other present and upcoming collaborators include Andre “Dre” Harris (Usher, Michael Jackson), Jon Levine (K’naan, Anjulie), Dave Thomson (LIGHTS, Jake Matthews) and Stefan Skarbek (Amy Winehouse). The final result is a collection of fun, accessible pop songs with relatable lyrics and plenty of substance.
The songs explore issues and emotions relevant to today’s world – love lost and found, friendship, and simply learning to navigate life. “No Good Woman,” for example, is an empowering anthem for women who’ve been on the bad end of a relationship with an emotionally immature partner – a story LeGrow’s heard “dozens of times from close girl friends,” while “23 Ways To Love Me,” on the other hand, explores the more passionate and positive parts of the ever-familiar emotion with some fun and fancy wordplay.
With a silk-laden and strong voice that’s both forceful and fragile coupled with the seemingly ideal formula for fun, accessible songs that so perfectly suit it, it’ll be exciting to see Elise LeGrow further expand her signature blend of past and present that’ll appeal to people across the board. “It took me a while to find my voice and get to where I am now,” the young singer says, “but it feels fantastic.”
The music may be in the same universe as some of today’s biggest pop stars, but she mixes her influences into something truly her own, and any one of these songs could be the next favorite for in-the-shower divas and closed-door dancers everywhere.