Eugene Weekly : Music : 5.8.08

Alone in the World
Ehren Ebbage releases debut CD

Just over a year ago, I last caught up with Ehren Ebbage. We discussed his EP, Bottlerocket, which he recorded as a solo project while still playing guitar in a band fronted by Justin King. Much has changed for Ebbage since then: He left King’s band — and King’s name recognition — to pursue his own solo career, toured the West Coast a couple of times and is now ready to release his debut full-length CD.

Ebbage originally set out to record Ten Cent Souvenir by himself, “but at some point in the process I felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job!” he says. He got in touch with a keyboard player and producer friend in Los Angeles, Zack Ray, who offered to record Ebbage’s CD for free. “It was the right thing at the right time. It was amazing,” says Ebbage. He recorded with a rhythm section that was “kind of like a young, white version of those guys that played together on all the old Motown records.” These guys were friends who had played together on numerous records, and they provided that elusive cohesive feel that is sometimes lacking in session work. “It was a unique combination of getting to play with amazing, world-class L.A. musicians,” he says, “but it also just felt like a band.”

With Ebbage holding the reins of his own creativity, this new batch of songs is engaging folk-based rock. Ebbage’s voice and lyrical style is unpretentious and natural, and his songwriting strength has improved in the few months since he delivered Bottlerocket — even though I got the impression that he’s still not too sure of his own talent. But Ten Cent Souvenir, he says, turned out just as he was hoping it would.

Each song features Ebbage’s gentle but catchy harmonies and unvarnished imagery. Ebbage revs up his guitar on some of the more rocking songs, such as the title track. Some, like “Land On You,” portray a slightly brooding tone while still being hummable and catchy. His song “Sorry” is a little of both.

Instead of the typical “opening band,” a collection of Ebbage’s friends will be on hand to help him celebrate, each playing a handful of their own songs. John Shipe, who will be sitting in with Ebbage on some tunes, will be there, along with Dan Jones, Peter Wilde and others.       

Ehren Ebbage CD release. 9:30 pm Saturday, May 10. Sam Bond’s Garage • $5. 21+ show