Friday, January 20, 2012

Emma-Lee: "Backseat Heroine" (album review)

Local clubs have been buzzing for some time over Toronto singer/songwriter Emma-Lee.  On February 7th she'll build on that with the release of her sophomore full length album Backseat Heroine.

As a singer, Emma-Lee has the unique ability to be sultry, vulnerable, and confident, all at the same time.  That comes shining through on songs like the infectious love story "I'll Dream For You".  On a number such as that, you can hear elements of both Neko Case (strength, confidence) and Jenny Lewis (playful seductiveness) in her voice.  She lets it all out in the studio as she belts out the country-tinged ballad "Phoenix" at the top of her lungs.

Emma-Lee's afraid to mix musical styles either.  The album kicks off with "Not Coming By", where a horn flourish reinforces her commanding vocals.  On the title track her deep, twangy delivery is set to the sounds of a sweeping string part.

"Figure It Out" may be the catchiest track on the record, boasting sharp funked-up pop hooks.  On the other end of the spectrum we're treated to "The Pools of Tears", a song that combines a light breezy surf strum with a home-on-the-range croon, and a big band aura.

With strong songs, a smooth convincing voice, and a broad range of musical influences, I don't see any reason why Emma-Lee can't achieve the kind of breakthrough success achieved by other Canadian women, like Feist for example, in recent years.

Emma-Lee plays Lee's Palace in Toronto on February 9th.

Best tracks: "Figure It Out", "Shadow of a Ghost"

Track listing for Backseat Heroine:
  • Not Coming By
  • Backseat Heroine
  • I'll Dream For You
  • Just Looking
  • Phoenix
  • Figure It Out
  • Today's Another Yesterday
  • Bring Back Your Love
  • The Pools of Tears
  • Shadow of a Ghost
  • I Could Live With Dying Tonight

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