I first became aware of EMILY HOWARD last November at the Exeter OXJAM; which I had been invited to by some folk musician friends of mine. (See my bog entry #28). She was one of the many excellent local performers that I witnessed that afternoon; and after the gig I had a brief chat with her. So when she contacted me asking me to review her debut EP, Where Do I Go? I was only too pleased to do so.
It is a six-track collection of original works, all penned by Emily herself. After my initial listen, It was immediately clear to me that the lady has many talents: chief of which is her song-writing ability. They are all well constructed songs, with good, interesting and unusual lyrics inspired by her experiences of life; about which she seems remarkably, and refreshingly candid. Listening to the EP, I’m subtly reminded of other artists’ work, but I can’t for the life of me put my finger on who! (Although Beverly Craven springs to mind). There’s definately something unique about Emily’s music though; and that’s the important thing here.
I had only previously heard one song from the EP – the title track (which I remember taking a liking to at the Oxjam gig). It is my personal favourite among the six. It has a nice arpeggiated chord sequence as an intro; enhanced by the bansuri flute, which delivers a mysterious ambience. Fluttering keys add to this vibe later in the song. ‘Where do I go from here?’ sings Emily – how many of us have asked ourselves that question in a time of uncertainty, I wonder? The piece ends with a nice little instrumental coda which I like a lot.
Emily has a lovely singing voice and her lead vocals are very good. She also has an ear for well thought-out harmonies to back them too – particularly on ‘Skip This Track’ and ‘Butterfly’; but these are evident on all of her songs. She also plays all guitars. And I must say that her rhythm guitar work is another of her great strengths – most noticable on ‘Journeyman’. Lead guitar, where it is played, is simpler but effective enough to enhance the songs – especially on ‘Age’, I thought. She is ably assisted by her band, which consists of: EWAN MacCAULEY on keys; CHRIS JONES on bass; and LUKE DOLMAN on drums. Additional musicians BIPIN JANI on Bansuri; and OLLI WHITE on percussion; were draughted in as necessary too.
The CD comes in a simple card slip-case with basic info on credites etc; and a very nice (and relevant) guitars, butterflies, and other natural motifs design by Hannah Scully.
Emily is apparenty currently recording a second collection of songs entitled ‘Keep Us Sane’ (another song that I heard at the Exeter Oxjam). I am, at time of writing, unsure whether this is another EP or a full album; but if the Where Do I Go? EP is anything to go by, then the future is looking very rosy indeed for this very talented young singer / song-writer. I hope to get down to Devon again soon; and hopefully catch Emily at one of her gigs. Good luck to her with the new project anyway.
Here is a link to Random Fish Records website:
Here is a video of the title track ‘Where Do I Go?’ :