Ernest Ellis took his sweet time in making his third album, Cold Desire, while he hid himself away in the studio for 12 months with Shining Bird’s Russell Webster. The photo of Ellis on the front cover with the bare chest and white bath robe signals the sultry and cheaply seductive feel of these nine songs.
Ellis unveils a more rustic and deep timbre than on his previous outings to give Clean Machine a mature and masculine feel complete with rhythmic synths somewhere between Roxy Music and The Magnetic Fields. The tune builds at a steady rate that goes from bedroom intimacy to stadium like anthem almost by stealth.
It is this subtle build that spreads through Cold Desire and is its greatest asset more so than its smooth ‘80s sheen. Shine Like Me brings guitar to the fore and has the most immediate melody, showing Ellis to have a number of tricks in his kit bag. As St Elmo’s Fire taught us, the saxophone is a ladykiller and Ellis brings this big brass instrument to the fore throughout, although most notably on Echo Bay.
Cold Desire has plenty to like about it without compromising its spacious nature. Ellis is one hell of a clever operator.