For over 20 years now I’ve belonged to that most well trodden of cliches; the disillusioned, disenchanted male singer/songwriter – a well represented group of male misfits and miscreants slinging acoustic guitars and singing their despair to anyone who’ll listen. Young female singer/songwriters however haven’t been given half as much exposure as their male counterparts; so I’m glad to see talented composers like Emily Jones get more of the recognition they deserve. And it’s attention well deserved, with EPs like her new ‘A Cut to the Quick’ on Droma Records.
From the beginning of this four track EP, it’s clear that Emily has a maturity to her songwriting that belies her years. On ‘New Year,’ the opening track, Emily (with help from some of label-mates The Taskers who play as back up band on this release) builds the song from stripped back acoustic guitar and single voice to a dark and infectious gothic waltz climax at the end. This blossoming of sound fits the overall feel throughout the E.P; as you hear Emily developing her confidence and her voice at this early stage of her career, and it’s a fascinating journey for the listener to share with her along the way.
The next song is the clear leading single ‘I Hope It Hurts;’ a bitter ode to an ex love who has screwed her over and a desire for fate to deal him a similar experience to that which he’s given her. It’s a feeling I’m sure most women (or indeed men) who’ve been mistreated by love can relate to, and is clearly and succinctly presented in this exploration of our darker emotions. The music compliments this, with a heavier, grungier (in a good way) style; with elements of the Banshees, Patti Smith and PJ Harvey. The Taskers manage to bring out the depths of the song without overwhelming it at any point, and I can tell that this is a song that would captivate audiences in both a ‘band’ and a ‘solo’ structure.
We’re in lighter territory with third song ‘Upsticks,’ a ‘ballsy’ (for want of a better word) and ‘bluesy’ tune with shades of Imelda May or Katy Tunstall at their most … erm ballsy. Its a fun and catchy song, which keeps the EP moving along nicely.
Last up is the heart-breaking ‘Fool.’ Laid bare as an acoustic track without the rest of the band, Emily showcases her strength as a guitarist and singer again; carrying the emotion without the need for any embellishment or production ‘tricks.’ It brought to mind the last song on ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (‘Song for the Asking’) where Paul Simon returns the audience to the personal after the lavish explorations of the arrangements before. In this way, Emily gives us an intimate glimpse into the soul of a woman at the beginning of her journey through love, loss and understanding; a journey that anyone who has experienced these pains (even old duffers like me) can relate to.
Overall, this E.P is raw, emotional, honest and beautiful, and a very strong debut for a songwriter I know will continue to go from strength to strength.
Check out the E.P for yourself here.