Tuesday, May 12, 2009

dirty by emily wells

Again, I find myself at that weird impasse where I've written about an artist so many times I feel like I've crossed the line into obsessive blogger territory. Or at least repetition. But Emily Wells, with her constant touring and new EP Dirty (Out May 26th), keeps giving bloggers and fans alike plenty of reasons to keep talking.

Two of Dirty's tracks, "Symphony 4: America's Mercy War" and "Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & The Requiem Mix" also appeared as album highlights on last year's genre-breaking The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties -- so chances are you probably have them. If not, hearing them pulled out of context and mixed in with new material is an excellent primer for the new listener. But what about the established fan and/or blogger with too much time on her hands? How about a beautiful remix of "Symphony 9 & the Sunshine" where, stripped of beats and slowed, the spotlight is on Well's virtuoso violin skills? Despite my love/hate relationship with the remixing world, it feels like, given Wells' affection for her looping pedal, she could take her music in any one of many dramatically different directions. I, for one, wouldn't mind hearing a few more symphony re-imaginings.

The new material on Dirty finds Wells experimenting and expanding her self-created "Symphonic Folktronica Fantasy" sound. On the breezy "Take It Easy San Francisco" she temporarily sets aside her trademark violin, instead favoring ukulele accompaniment to create a light summer tune. The good-time atmosphere is continued on pizzicato-happy "Whiskey and Rags." Of course, securing her status as "unclassifiable," Wells also includes Notorious B.I.G. cover, "Juicy," slowing the song to a melodic, downtrodden-but-dreamy meditation on poverty.

Usually when you see phrases on a press sheet like, "Nina Simone and Biggie Smalls make my world go round," it's a case for incredulity. But when it comes to Wells, you can clearly hear the influence of many disparate genres. More than a musical parlor trick, she makes genre mash-up and boundary-pushing work in her favor. Good thing...I suspect the music world isn't done talking about her yet.

(photo Emily Wells: Anne Carmack)

mp3: "Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & The Requiem Mix (live at KCRW)" by Emily Wells


MeInCalgary said...

I met Emily when I was a volunteer at the Calgary Folk Music Festival in July 2009. (it's a pretty broad take on what is Folk music, it's all across the board) I too, felt like I was offering too much interest as I invited her as a friend on Facebook, and have had several conversations since. We all should support Artist's of all kinds that we appreciate. They have to make a living too.

LMS said...

We all should support Artist's of all kinds that we appreciate. They have to make a living too.

Amen to that!