Emma Louise : Vs Head Vs Heart
Emma Louise could have gone a couple of ways in the making of her debut album. As the opening spectral chords of Vs Head Vs Heart bled through the air I was worried that she’d gone the way of an ever more airy acousticness that would threaten to just wash her melodies away, but this is an very clever album which – although yes, it’s heavy on vocal chords and softly rippling guitar – manages to be thoughtful but still always pulsing with propulsion. It takes its time but utilises some fantastic electronic elements which ensure it’s always, always moving forward in some way.
Atlas Eyes shows us Emma has further developed her ability to write weirdly stirring and unexpected melodies and sing them with penetration which is admirable considering she never belts. Last year’s single Boy comes next and I think it’s had a little re-working, with these tiny plinks of guitar like acorns falling down, speckled through the chorus. It remains a great track.
Stainache is kind of watered-down but Mirrors takes Emma’s music up into the league of London Grammar in its sensitivity and tiny little details. It’s also got this great synth line through it, and that mnemonic magic moves through into Freedom which is, quite frankly, fucking great. Along with Cages and Pontoon, it sounds like it belongs on Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack for the 2011 film Drive. The whole thing winds up with To Keep Me Warm, a real beauty with echoing percussion and sweet electronic keys.
Emma Louise has obviously paced herself with this release but taken advantage of everything that’s been offered to her in the last few short years. These songs will sound great with a full band or just with an acoustic guitar and Emma’s voice.
BY ZOË RADAS
Best Track: To Keep Me Warm
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: LAMB, LONDON GRAMMAR, PORTISHEAD
In A Word: Redolent