Review: Ella Haber Celebrates Her Debut EP at Oxford Art Factory

Ella Haber at Oxford Art Factory

Last Thursday night, we were invited to attend the release party at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory (OAF) for singer/songwriter Ella Haber celebrating the launch of her debut EP, “Clay” released via Soul Has No Tempo.

Produced by the always incredible Jordan Rakei, “Clay” is a showcase of Ella‘s undeniable talent.

Catching the end of support act Lady King‘s set, I arrived just in time to maneuver my way near the front to get a good view.

As the lights dimmed and everyone was shuffling around the get on and off the stage, the first thing that caught my attention was how many people there were on stage all at once! If you’ve been to the smaller room at the OAF, you’ll know it’s a much smaller stage. At one point, I’m sure there were 10 people up there, but each person played a pivotal part in the opening song that was chosen to kick off the set.

Ella had two trumpet players on stage alongside her drummer, guitarist, bassist, pianist and four female back-up singers (including support act Lady King) interchanging with each song but two that stayed on stage for most of her set.

With everyone crammed up on stage, Ella opened her set up with the title track ‘Clay,’ an empowering ode to not giving in to a one-sided relationship which was a great start to the show getting the crowd moving and setting the tone for the night.

Running through the songs off her EP (there’s only five) including ‘Puppet’ and ‘Responsibility,’ Ella extended her set by adding in a couple of new songs she’s been working on including ‘Raspberry Rose’ written by/for her partner, and grabbed everyone’s attention when she pulled out the acoustic guitar to perform ‘Big Thief,’ a song inspired by the band Big Thief, which she admitted was not very creative on her part.

But the moment she created during those few minutes was an almost serene, zen moment when she performed said song with just an acoustic guitar, her keyboardist and her soft, delicate vocals coming out of the microphone. I say almost because if you’ve ever been to the OAF, you’ll know there are two rooms: one for the bigger crowds or bigger gigs and the other for the smaller, indie, up-and-coming artists. We were in the latter and during ‘Big Thief,‘ whilst our room was completely quiet, we could hear the faint singalongs of the crowd at the sold-out G-Flip show in the room next to us. It felt like an unintentional and completely in-the-moment remix. 

Ella Haber can do it all: trumpet, guitar, piano, and her soulful-tinged vocals showing off her scats and runs throughout the performance. I even heard a guy in the crowd say “Wow, she can do everything. I can’t do anything.”

Prior to performing ‘Behind Closed Eyes,’ Ella shared that she wrote the song five years ago and didn’t really want to sing but because we were at the launch of the EP which the song is featured on, she felt she had to. I thought it was a beautiful live rendition. Personally, it’s my favourite off the record, but it’s a shame that she may never perform it live again. I consider myself lucky that I was in the audience to hear what might be the last time she performs the song live.

Closing her set, Ella performed ‘Old Friends’ and shared one last new song, titled ‘Happy Birthday,’ which she wrote in the perspective of her best friend, and was fitting to end the night as she wishes that everyone has a great year in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. 😉

The Sydney based multi-instrumentalist delivered a phenomenal listening experience of her EP live on stage incorporating her jazz composition and relatable, heartfelt songwriting. “Clay” is an open book that explores themes of love, heartbreak and fighting for self-love in between, and places Ella on the map as one to watch. Absolutely love the fact that she’s also a local artist!

To continue with the celebration of the release, Ella will make her way to Brisbane’s ‘Can You Keep a Secret’ on Sunday, May 12 and then will finish off at Melbourne’s Penny Black on Thursday, May 16, concluding an impressive run of shows that are not to be missed!

Buy the vinyl/record of “Clay” here.

Ella Haber
“CLAY” Release Party
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
May 12, 2019