Album Review: Ego Ella May, ‘Honey for Wounds’

Listen to Honey for Wounds. Originally published in the July 2020 issue of Jazzwise.

Ego Ella May released her sophomore album, Honey for Wounds, on 22 June. Her smooth, sage voice chronicles societal ills and personal heartache in clever, poetic lyrics that conjure a reflective, communal ambience to leave the listener with a sense of solace. 

May’s fluid vocals are backed by velvety basslines and a number of collaborators whose measured solos round out the album’s warm, crystalline soul. On ‘Table for One,’ Oscar Jerome and Joe Armon Jones play shimmering strains and Eddie Hick’s tight drumming crests into satisfying full stops. In ‘Tonight I’m Drowning,’ trumpeter Theo Croker (who plays on several tracks) and pianist Ashley Henry delicately match her climbing, melancholy melody.

‘Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys’ showcases May’s lyrical talent. A lesser writer’s catalog of crises like inequality, Grenfell Tower, homelessness, climate change, and music industry hypocrisies would render a song into a rant. May, however, packages droll observations in celestial turns of voice and with a cool remove that keeps the listener easily nodding along to the “nice beat” behind her that May references as “so you’ll still buy me.” 

UPPERROOM RECORDS

Ego Ella May (v), Theo Croker (tr), Wu-Lu (b), Oscar Jerome (g), Joe Armon Jones (k), Eddie Hicks (d), Maralisa (v), Ashley Henry (k), Andrew Ashong (g), Sam Michnik (d), Wonky Logic (g). Additional production from Wulu, Mini D, Sam Posener, Eun, Tom Excell, Alfa Mist, and Melo Zed.