Liner Notes, IV: Stay With Me by Lorraine Ellison

By John  F. Guido

Via Funk My Soul

Hey, my name is John. This is Liner notes. Check this out.

If you asked people to think of the best R&B and Soul singers of all time, there’d be a consensus among who’d take the top spots: Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, etc. I’m not entirely sure if Lorraine Ellison would make that list. That’s due to a couple of things, namely the fact that she never had much chart success, and the fact that she left the music scene in 1976, after only an 8 year career. In short, Ellison had neither the longevity or popularity to carve out a name for herself in the genre so dominated by those I mentioned previously. And, frankly, that’s a shame. What the middling chart records and the short career don’t reflect, is the raw talent Ellison possessed.

Take “Stay With Me”, Ellison’s most well known track, and in my entirely subjective and biased opinion, her best. Simply put, it’s a power-house of a love song, something that speaks from a place of love lorn heartbreak and crushing isolation. Her voice—smooth and delicate at times, before building seamlessly into a crescendo of raw and desperate emotion no less beautiful to listen to—is wonderfully moving, having a weight behind it that drive home the titular line of the track like an overhead blow from a sledgehammer. It rides on the swell of horns, drums, and strings that comprise the instrumentals from the track. Just as wonderful as Ellison, they provide a stellar foundation from which she can belt out her heart. Ellison pulls you in close with this track, and it’s a wonderful place to be.

So, closing comments: “Stay With Me” is delightfully pure, and simplistic in its message. It croons, and aches, and makes a time-worn theme hit home with a punch. In three and a half minutes, it manages to captivate, move, and stun. It deserves your attention.

In all fairness, I wanted this to be longer, but I’m running out of things to say. Just trust the fact that it’s great. I promise I’ll write more next time.

Pros:

It makes you, as a listener, feel something. That’s always a good thing.

It’s quick, concise, and emotive without needing to be drawn out. Another plus.

Cons:

It’s pretty much the only Lorraine Ellison song of this caliber.

When To Listen to It

One of the few songs that should be played when serenading your significant other with a boombox outside of their open window. I mean, if you’re so inclined.

Long Plays:

“Just One Look” – Doris Troy

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” – The Righteous Brothers

“When A Man Loves A Woman” – Percy Sledge

John F. Guido is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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