If Canadian upstart Elessar Thiessen sounds familiar, it’s because your ears are used to the stylings of Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran and John Mayer on the radio over the past decade. Silky, fun, yet deep and even funky at times, Thiessen’s tunes featured on “A Rainy Week in Paradise” are a great companion on a long road trip, where you’d rather smile than think.
A perfect example of a track that’ll get you to snap your fingers rather than look for an encyclopedia is “I Need a Woman.” Thiessen’s voice bounces from a breathy Mraz to a the more poetic Sheeran here, to the point where you’d swear this was a duet between these much more experienced musicians. It’s here that we realize too that it’s his ability to play with his voice and write savvy and simple lyrics is what makes him unique. The fact that he produced and engineered the album, as well as provided guitar, organ and piano, shouldn’t be ignored either.
The album’s title track is another instance where Thiessen’s light and floaty voice, combined with a fun guitar lick makes for something special. For a kid that grew up in often frosty Canada, forced to spend winters inside, he knows how to write a summer song. A beautifully written track with a great hook, it’s something you’d imagine Jimmy Buffet to sing if he never wrote “Margaritaville.” But with the Mraz, Plain White T’s-feel, it’s a radio-friendly track that deserves airtime.
But not all of the tracks are fun and light. “When the World Ends” is a track that has the youngster talking about the future of the world while “Sister” is an emotional ballad that’ll hit you hard. Again, while the comparisons to Sheeran are unavoidable, the song, on its own merits is a damn good one, in the vein of singer/songwriters the likes of James Taylor and Jim Croce. If Ed Sheeran didn’t exist, Thiessen would be a star right now. As it stands, however, Thiessen isn’t a substitute for Sheeran or a doorman’s version of him- he’s just a talented musician- who happens to sound a lot like him.
Thanks to a nice blend of sounds and plenty of talent on multiple instruments, Thiessen quickly separates himself from critics that’ll disregard him by saying that he sounds like a combination of Sheeran and Mraz. While there’s nothing drenched in true originality here in terms of his vocal performance, the pop and radio-friendly formula and beautiful songwriting suits Thiessen just fine.