Monday, April 02, 2012

Emily Wells: "Mama" (album review)

There really isn't another musician out there like Emily Wells.  She fearlessly combines her classical training with a flurry of genres to create something truly unique and ever changing.

Wells' new album, Mama, is set to come out on April 10th.

This is a more restrained and demur album than we're used to getting from Wells.  She seems to have set some parameters for her experiments and she stays well within them.

A plucked violin punctuates a graceful arrangement on "Passenger".  A smooth, reggae-like rhythm is created from electronic effects on "Johnny Cash's Mama's House".  For "Let Your Guard Down", Wells turns to blues structure.

This is the first time that Wells has actually played it TOO safe at times.  She channels Hope Sandoval for the dreamy (read snoozy) "No Good".

Vocals have never been Wells' strong suit.  While normally quirky, they get downright grating on "Fire Song".  When she layers and echoes them on "Piece Of It", however, she strikes gold.

Everything comes together in a perfect storm on "Dirty Sneakers and Underwear".  A marching drums contrasts with cascading vocals with a hip hop flow.  It distills everything that can be so good about Emily Wells into one triumphant moment.

Best tracks: "Dirty Sneakers and Underwear", "Johnny Cash's Mama's House"

Track listing for Mama:
  • Piece of It
  • Dirty Sneakers and Underwear
  • Passenger
  • Mama's Gonna Give You
  • Johnny Cash's Mama's House
  • Let Your Guard Down
  • Fire Song
  • No Good
  • Instrumental
  • Darlin'

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