‘Everyone Needs to Chill Out’ is the tongue-in-cheek title of the debut collaboration between veteran PEI performers Dennis Ellsworth (Haunted Hearts) and Kinley Dowling (Hey Rosetta!). It’s an apt title for this collection of mellow and melancholic music that finds it’s home somewhere between the Maritimes and Nashville (though it was recorded in Toronto in a converted tractor-trailer). In fact, this disc would fit nicely beside any of the releases from the artists that are looking to shed stereotypes and redefine Nashville with their Ten Out Of Tenn movement. Ellsworth especially fits this mold with the earnest and hushed vocal delivery of tunes like ‘I’m Obscured’, ‘Sorrowful Woman’, or ‘Snowing In Amsterdam’.
Throughout the disc Dowling provides a perfect contrast to Ellsworth with her bright, effortless, and often times playful vocals that bring to mind the ease and delivery of a young Susanna Hoffs. Elsewhere she uses her experience and instrumental expertise to provide beautiful string arrangements and gorgeous harmonies.
Ultimately though, this release feels like more of a song swap than an honest-to-goodness duet record, except for maybe the album’s closing cut ‘Joni‘. This does not deter from the mood of the proceedings however and when all is said and done, the formula works to great effect. Tracks like Dowling’s topical ‘Virginia‘ or the gorgeous ‘Something Beautiful‘ provide a welcome relief from the tension and mood of Ellsworth’s ‘I Tried To Be Your Lover‘ or album highlight ‘Peaks of Heaven‘, with it’s hushed vocal and dense synth arrangement.
It’s not just a sombre affair either!. Take the whistful co-write ‘Panorama High‘ for example. An updated ‘Rocky Mountain High‘ that praises the joys of being in nature framed in a simple, organic arrangement with a chorus that will stick in your head for days. Then there’s Dowling’s ‘Washington‘ with it’s careless vocal, political lyric and straight-off-a-Patti Griffin record acoustic guitar.
At the end of the day, ‘Everyone Needs To Chill Out‘ is a confident, well crafted affair from two of the island’s best exports that will appeal to fans of singer-songwriters, melancholia,and lazy Sunday afternoons.