After practicing as a nurse for the majority of her adult life, young singer/songwriter Ilana J has now devoted her life to music and Free Falling From The Ground Up is the heartfelt culmination of this journey. In other words, this is a very personal debut. Despite it’s genuine intentions however, Free Falling From the Ground Up is certainly not going to please everyone. It has a twee almost open-mic feel to it that will perhaps not satisfy listeners who are looking for something a bit more complex and fresh. The first two thirds of the release have an extremely upbeat Coreen Baily Rae meets The Beautiful South vibe which gets a little dull. Nevertheless, the major strength of this EP lies within Ilana’s vocals which are mostly lovely throughout, even if the production doesn’t quite hold water.
The first half of Free Falling From The Ground Up has a strange plastic sound to it; Ilana’s singing is not complemented well by the out of time and squeaky synths throughout. Both Paper Planes and Smoke suffer from this malady, and also feature tinny drum samples that just aren’t that appealing. Despite this, the majority of the vocals on the EP are crisp and interesting; Ilana’s no Florence Welsh, but she manages to hold it together throughout. There are a few wobbly moments in the outro track In The End where she doesn’t quite hit the right notes, but nonetheless it acts as a fitting end to a very varying collection of songs. In fact the last two tracks, Sing and In The End are acoustically beautiful and don’t include any of the annoying processed drums or melodies featured previously. In this case, less is certainly more and both tracks have a nice K T Tunstall feel to them, which works extremely well with Ilana’s vocals.
The weakest track on the EP is England, which has recently been turned into a music video. Its sickly sweet guitars and unfortunately generic lyrics are like something that might feature in the next Apple commercial. Free Falling From the Ground Up is certainly not as strong as it could have been, and suffers from a lack of unique ideas and over production. However, if you enjoy your incredibly upbeat pop-music then Ilana J might be a person to keep your eyes on over the next few years. She’s certainly up and coming, and her twee lyrics will no doubt appeal to a larger market.