God Is In The TV > Reviews > Live > Emily Wells – Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds, 9th December 2013

Emily Wells – Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds, 9th December 2013


Just like that time in the ‘Treehouse of Horror XIII’ when Homer Simpson bought a magic hammock and quickly realises he can produce several Homer clones, if you were to close your eyes tonight you would swear blind that there were any number of Emily Wells on the Belgrave Music Hall stage such is the sheer size of her multi-instrumentalist sound. There are timpani; there are strings; and courtesy of a single 031amelodica, there is also wind.  Emily Wells is a one woman orchestra. And that is long before you have even considered the sampler, analogue synthesizer and that mercurial voice. Imagine a rather primitive Peggy Lee collaborating with Van Dyke Parks and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble and you are only just beginning to get part of the picture.

And it is pictures in which Emily Wells deals. Her music has a strong visual impact and through it she brings stories to vivid life. Opening with ‘Los Angeles’, she begins to paint layer upon layer of rhythmic sound on her blank canvas. By creating a series of live loops through her synthesizer, voice and violin the song starts to quickly build, taking on its own life form before revealing itself as a simple ode to the city of angels, a wistful reflection upon her love of a place now somehow lost in time. ‘Los Angeles’ speaks of friendships; alongside love, whiskey and Jesus these close personal ties provide what are the staples of Wells’ writing.

Taken from the soundtrack to Stoker, the creeping melody of ‘Becomes The Colour’ captures by stealth the film’s dark transgressional menace as Wells’ voice vacillates between charm and horror, rap and croon. 038aWith its vibrant images of blue jays in the summer and apples in the Fall, ‘Come To Me’ is essentially the most tender of gospel love songs. And the modular repetition of ‘Mama’s Gonna Give You Love’ finds itself driven along by some kick-ass percussion, the most seductive of melodica lines and Wells’ universally hybrid hip-hop. But it is perhaps inside ‘Symphony Number 1’ with its mournful “barrel of a gun” refrain and natural blues sensibility where you will find the true spiritual home of Wells’ music. Once all of Emily Wells’ infinite creativity is stripped away and the instruments, mixers and looping pedals have all gone home, this is surely the story of the blues. And it is a story quite brilliantly told by the most imaginative and individual of talents.

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