Review: Emmy The Great, S

Emmy The Great
Image Courtesy of Emmy The Great

So I guess our little folk singer has really grown up.

Well to be honest Emmy The Great has been shedding her folk-singer skin ever since the release of her 2011 album Virtue, but with her new EP S she’s well and truly left folk behind in favour of pop music. And not just any pop music – 80s synth-pop to be exact.

Which may lead you to question why we’re reviewing S in the first place. Well the main reason is deep in the heart of the EP’s four tracks I can still hear the same singer-songwriter strumming away on her guitar that I fell in love with five years ago. So let’s break this down track by track shall we?

“Swimming Pool”: The first single from the EP and probably the closest track to anything from Virtue, “Swimming Pool” showcases Emmy The Great’s delicate vocals over muted, retro production. It’s very easy to hear the influence of artists like Lana Del Rey and Lorde on the track with the minimalist rhythm section, glissando harps and generous reverb. I love the chorus in this track where the male voice (courtesy of Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming) adds a complimentary bass to Emmy The Great’s melodies. One of my favourite tracks from her in a long time.

“Social Halo”: The looping and sampling at the start of this track actually gives way to the kind of simple fingerpicking typical of early Emmy The Great tracks – only this time on an electric guitar. The finger-picking continues the rest of the track but is overshadowed by the production – sweeping eighties rock guitar, ambient loops and restrained synth base. Emmy The Great’s lyrics are still front and centre on this track and it makes me wonder if the track is written about anyone in particular – who’s social halo is Emmy referring to? And does she even want to be there in the first place?

“Solar Panels”: And so the transformation into 80s synth-pop princess is complete. “Solar Panels” ignores any pretense of lyrical complexity and dives straight into thumping base, repetitive verses and choruses and choppy synth. There’s no folk singer here – this is pure dancefloor baiting pop. All I can picture is fluro when I hear this song

“Somerset (I Can’t Get Over)”: The synth-pop trend continues on “Somerset (I Can’t Get Over)”, albeit in a more subdued fashion. The track is an ode to an ex-lover who Emmy The Great pleads with “please don’t get over me”. There’s something almost broadway about the lyrics and melody of this track – you could imagine it being slotted into a musical complete with jazzy big band score and dance solo over the “da da da” break. But obviously it’s not a broadway number – it’s a pop song and it’s a wonderful way to wrap up the EP.

With all the synth-pop in S maybe it’s time for Timber and Steel to well and truly break up with Emmy The Great, accept the fact that she’s not the acoustic folk singer she once was. But I’m still going to buy this EP and I’m still going to be the first to geek out every time she releases something new. Because I can’t just get over Emmy The Great.

S from Emmy The Great is available online now via Rough Trade. You can also stream the EP on Rookie Mag here.

1 Comment

  1. February 6, 2015 at 16:02

    […] “Deep in the heart of the EP’s four tracks I can still hear the same singer-songwriter strumming away on her guitar that I fell in love with five years ago” – Gareth Hugh Evans reviews the new EP from Emmy The Great, S. Review here […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: