Alt-Folk chanteuse Emmy The Great returns with new EP and a new sound on a new label. I’ve always felt sorry for Emma-Lee Moss (AKA Emmy the Great). Her songs are chocked full of melancholy and laments about past loves. Her debut First Love, as the title gave away, was crammed with songs about breaking up and out, a largely acoustic lo-fi sounding record these songs housed a personal homespun feeling. Virtue, Moss’ second album concerned similar themes but the songs were more fleshed out, and rounded. When I heard she was releasing a new EP I hoped that she was faring better with relationships since I last heard her. Sadly, it turns out she isn’t, which is great for us.
S is her first collection of songs since 2012’s God of Loneliness, the first thing that strikes you about this EP, is that Moss has changed her sound quite dramatically. Gone are the scratchy acoustic guitars, and in their place we find luscious synths, looped samples and repetitive beats: a more modern sound.
Opening track Swimming Pool typifies this new style. The music, as the title implies, has liquefied feel, due to the production, it sound like you are listening to the music underwater. The juxtaposition between this murky sounding music and Moss’ crisp and clear vocals makes it one of the most beautiful and exciting tracks of the year so far. At times it sounds like Kate Bush, re-imagining Brian Eno’s Deep Blue Day. Social Halo shows that Moss has not lost her skill of being able to tell a story and keep you engrossed in her words as well as touching the listener. This is classic Emmy the Great!
The third track however is when things start to go a little off track, Solar Panels concerns Moss’ time in America and at the Coachella festival. At first everything starts off in a similar manner to the opening two track. There is catchy guitar riff, insistant beat and modern synth/piano samples that bubble away under Moss’ clear vocals. Once the chorus comes in, it suddenly starts to swerve into a trance track, given the track’s beginning, this sudden 90 degree turn takes you by surprise and sounds quite jarring. It doesn’t work well, the inclusion of trance sound disrupts the flow of the EP. Last track Somerset (I Can’t get Over) picks up musically where the second track ends. Another of her trademark laments about lost love, as the music grows more epic, so does Moss’ declarations of love and longing. It is a fitting way to end the EP.
This is the first collection of tracks Moss has released for her new imprint Bella Union so expectations were high. Moss has delivered a collection of tracks that not only entertain, but captivate. It’s hard to know if Moss’ new sound will yield an album, or if this was an experiment? Either way the results show that Moss hasn’t lost her ability to perfectly tell a story in under four minutes only with different framing, on this evidence she sounds positively at home on her new label.