Album Review: Emmy the Great – First Love

by Vanessa Romero on October 14, 2009

Emmy

I’m kind of a sucker for female singers with a British accent. Ok wait, I’m kind of a sucker for British accents in general, but let’s ignore that for now. Lucky for me there seems to have been some point in the last few years when the music industry decided that the new “it” thing was female British singers. I won’t name them, but you know who I’m talking about: they are always grouped together even though their musical styles are different just because they are of the same gender and geographical area. First Love, the debut album by Emmy the Great (aka Emma-Lee Moss), might fit the quirky-folk contingent.

The album opens with “Absentee,” a song reminiscent of Nick Drake at first, but when it starts to pick up, it becomes even more catchy and heartfelt. I understand why “We Almost had a Baby” was chosen as the first single, since it reminds me of another one of those British female singers, Kate Nash. Although I don’t think it’s quite catchy enough, it does feature beautiful strings.  And in keeping with folk tradition, the song captures what is probably the best aspect of Emmy the Great’s music, her lyrics.

When listening to these lyrics you definitely don’t feel like the music is dated, since a lot of her songs contain current pop-culture references. One song titled “24” cleverly takes its name from the TV program of the same name to tell the story of a failing relationship in which the girl’s partner watches a program where all the hours will add up to a day, but “the man on the screen he has done more in a minute than you have achieved in your whole entire life.”

Somewhere in the middle of the album, after the ditty “Dylan,”  I get a little bored; it just doesn’t hold my attention. I snap back during “First Love,” another single off the album. In it, Emmy the Great tells the story of her “first love” while a cassette played Hallelujah, “the original Leonard Cohen version.” If I were ever to write an album, it would be similar to Emmy the Great; memories from my life told through the music and culture that accompanied it at the time. In “MIA,” although she is remembering a car crash, the moment she recounts is the radio continuing to play a singer who her car crash partner had told her, “her name was either MIA or M.I.A.”

What makes Emmy entertaining is that the music sometimes lulls me into my own dream-like state until something she sings catches my ear and I turn my attention back to her. A modern storyteller sometimes has to use modern methods of connecting with their audience and personally I think she does it well.

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Straight Outta Albion is a continuing series of reviews of albums that are available in the UK, but won’t be in the U.S. for a long time, if ever.  (That noted, First Love is available from some sites for paid download.)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

juliaiam October 14, 2009 at 9:58 am

This makes me want to check out the album.

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Sarah October 14, 2009 at 12:58 pm

i love her, will definitely be giving this a listen!

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