Review: Emmy the Great
The Green Door Store hadn’t known what hit it as people continued to excitedly squeeze in to see Emmy the Great. The same could be said for her support act, Dems who warmed up the relatively chilly venue with their atmospheric electronica. Infusing intricate beats, overlaid vocals and far-reaching melodies, the South London trio were a definite signal of what we were to expect from Emmy herself. Once Dems had left to great applause (their sense of humour having almost as much effect as their music), a short interval led to the stage’s main focus being a projection of Emmy. Two holographic versions of the singer moved and sang to the opening song as she and her band came to the stage, one by one.
With virtually (ha!) no introduction, Emmy plunged into songs from her latest release – four years after her last solo album, Virtue. Playing with just a keyboardist and second guitarist, Emmy’s famously powerful vocals were still able to soar whilst also shedding light on the immense depth of her new music. Full of feedback, dub and heavy beats, Emmy has definite- ly evolved from solely singing over finger-picked guitars and being hailed as ‘anti-folk’. In many ways, she is still an ‘anti-folk’ artist; the lyrical prowess still dominates, only now, she has shifted from in- trospective and confessional po- etry to one which examines her environment. Although she bluntly joked that the song ‘Solar Panels’, from her new EP, S, was just about mobiles, it doesn’t half reinforce how Emmy’s landscaping has left London and moved onto other topics of technology and the wider world without entirely leaving the everyday dramas she is so known for covering. Texturally rich and more refined, it’s interesting how her look has evolved to complement the music.
As if her holographic projections weren’t saying enough, Emmy was dressed head-to-toe in a white ensemble that was both futuristic whilst being very much of our time. This minimalism was most certainly reflected in her music, no more so than in her latest single, ‘Swimming Pool’. I couldn’t help but picture David Hockney’s paintings of swimming pools as she sang about wanting to ‘a blue swim- ming pool’ that’s ‘so clear and so, so new’. A slow beginning falsely calms before immersing you in the chorus’ layered vocals, just as if you were diving into a pool itself. By bitter-sweetly declaring Brighton as her last date on the current tour, Emmy was more than happy to oblige audience requests of older songs such as ‘Trellick Tower’, ‘We Almost Had a Baby’ and ‘Atoms’. Once we’d learnt that the gui- tarist to her left was also her brother, the atmosphere was definitely one of intimacy and comfort. On a new path for sure, Emmy still remains as honest as her lyrics.