Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
Review of Emmy The Great's First Love
Sam SeagerIt occurred to me that amidst the music media mayhem that is March and my not wanting to look too much like an obsessed stalker-fan (though I suspect the damage on that front was done long ago), I neglected to actually provide at review of Emmy The Great’s long-awaited debut album First Love after it was released way back in February.
But beyond the aforementioned factors, one of the reasons I didn’t feel compelled to write the record up was that it didn’t feel new, and thus didn’t strike that evangelical chord within me. As The Daily Growl, a much longer-time Emmy fan than I, alluded to in his review, we’ve been living with so many of these songs in so many live/demo versions for so long, that the notion that these are the “proper” and “final” versions of these tunes just don’t quite register. The sense of immediate familiarity is contributed to by the fact that the production on the record favours a very straight, live feel – this is not a complaint, they obviously know that the relatively unadorned approach utilizing the components of her live band compliments Emmy’s voice and lyrics best, and it when little bits of studio or instrumental flourish is dropped in – the synth bass in the coda of “Absentee” stands out in particular – it’s that much more striking.
But as it should be, Emmy’s voice and words are the centerpiece of the record – the former clear, understatedly expressive and with remarkable diction and the latter evocative, incisive and witty in a manner more melancholic than humorous. In the wrong hands, these ingredients could come across as overly precious or precocious but with Emmy, the sincerity of it wins out. It feels like a coping mechanism wherein the only way to deal with heartbreak is to describe it in as painstaking detail as possible and if you’re of that sort of personality, it resonates deeply.
About half of the record appeared on my own homemade Emmy mixes through the better part of 2008, and so I can’t say whether the reason the other half of the record hasn’t grabbed me as much as is because it’s not as ingrained into my DNA or if they’re actually just weaker songs. But even if the latter, the overall quality of the record is impressive and any record that boasts songs like “24”, “Easter Parade” and the title track makes for a worthy debut. Do I love the record? Yes, I do. Did it make my jaw drop? No, but that’s because my jaw was already there.
MP3s below are live or non-album versions, but the versions that I’ve played to death over the past year. Same for the “Easter Parade” and “MIA” videos.
MP3: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
MP3: Emmy The Great – “MIA” (live from Black Room Sessions)
MP3: Emmy The Great – “24” (live on Welcome To Our Show, January 2008)
Video: Emmy The Great – “First Love”
Video: Emmy The Great – “We Almost Had A Baby”
Video: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
Video: Emmy The Great – “MIA”
MySpace: Emmy The Great
Exclaim has some info on forthcoming releases from Florence & The Machine. The A Lot of Love, A lot of Blood EP, which collects her singles so far on single 12″, is still due out on April 28 and her debut full-length, which has been given the title of Lungs, appears to set for a June or July release. She talks to BBC6 about coming up with the name for the record.
Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan tells Gigwise that plans are afoot to make a musical-fantasy feature film (think Labyrinth) based on songs from her first album Fur & Gold, and that all that’s left is “to get the funding”. So yes, look for that to be coming to a theatre near you REAL soon. But first, listen to the live MP3 from the new album below. Then read these interviews at BBC and MTV. Then look for her new record Two Suns in stores next Tuesday. Then look for her to play the Mod Club on April 25 (with Lewis & Clarke as support – again). Then look for monkeys to fly. THEN look for the movie.
Though not a proper Take-Away Show, La Blogotheque has some pretty stunning – and of course stylish – live footage of Mogwai. They’re at the Phoenix on May 4. And note that Take-Away Shows mastermind Vincent Moon has started a blog.
Also out today and streaming is Lost Channels, the new one from Great Lake Swimmers. Paste, The Georgia Straight and The Gauntlet have interviews with Tony Dekker, who will be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.