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"Second Love" by Emmy the Great and the Promise of Equally Great Things

Every so often, I find myself fortunate enough to receive pre-release copies of albums. Doesn't happen super often and not every time do I get a chance to listen to the albums sent my way. I'm a weekend blogger - much like a weekend warrior, but significantly less cool.

However, when I was offered a chance to listen to the new EMMY THE GREAT (!!!!) (or Emma-Lee Moss as is her real name), my heart soared. I believe in this girl in a way I do few other artists, despite not being a huge fan of her music (I am definitely a fan, but I'm not going to lie and group myself among her most ardent supporters). I remember her, Laura Marling, and Lightspeed Champion emerging all at the same time, and me being a fan of all of them to various degrees (it was the mid-to-late 2000s British anti-folk scene, I suppose).

 
Her third album, "Second Love," is pretty much perfect. I rarely adore something so much following an apprehensive first listen. But sitting at a Phoenix coffee shop bent over my Chromebook and coming off a panic attack, I was immediately captivated by both her voice and the lush instrumentals accompanying it. The first song, "Swimming Pool" (which features Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts fame - his voice is completely unmistakable, you'll recognize it almost instantly) is - gahhhhhhh. It's impeccable. 

"Love is something that I always thought I could never go inside," she sings, with Tom accompanying her in the background. It's a very gentle, rousing song, but hands down my favorite off "Second Love." And I know historically speaking you shouldn't adore an opener so much, but it's so beautiful. How could I not?!

 
 
The next few songs all follow suit - everything is sort of quiet and hushed and pensive. Not super similar but not remarkably different, either. Folky, but not as much as I remember her previous efforts being. This time she has more of a pop (and slightly electronic) sensibility, and it really plays well to her strengths. If I could find someone praising a sub-par Starbucks-type (is that still a thing even?) singer-songwriter and make them listen to this album, trust me, I would. "Less Than Three" is very sing-songy and quirky, but not quirky in a way that will make you think of, say, Bjork or Regina Spektor (pre-"Fidelity.")


There is also a very interesting motif to her song titles, a motif that seems to be about ... text messages? Well, it is 2016. And me? I'm much more of a texter than a caller. ("Less Than Three," "Algorithm," "Hyperlink.") Yet Emmy is able to sing about the mundane and make it pristine.

One thing that is worth mentioning about Emmy the Great is her lyrical ability. I don't think she's in the Leonard Cohen leagues or anything of that nature, but I think she has a way with words that is pretty unique and approachable. "Love is the answer, oh but I am a comfortable liar," she sings in the breezy "Hyperlink."

"Constantly" showcases Emmy's vocal strengths pretty well, but other than that, I didn't think it was memorable. One of the few lackluster tracks on "Second Love." "Social Halo," which comes right afterward, is beautiful and wistful but not too precious. It's a stand-out, in all honesty. Sort of rouses the feelings of running into a crush or an old lover or even a friend you've fallen out of contact with. "And all of your friends, they call me 'Yoko,'" is probably one of my favorite lyrics in recent memory. A+

"Never Go Home" is yet another stand-out, and one that wouldn't sound out of place on Top 40 radio. "Dance w Me" is decent, but not of the same build of its peers. The way she says "darling," though. It seems to drip off her tongue, which is ... nice! It's nice. I wasn't going to use another word, gosh"Phoenixes" has a wonderful storytelling aspect to it and is reminiscent of Laura Marling in certain parts. The only downside to it is that it seems to build to a crescendo that never quite materializes.

"Shadowlawns," the third to last track on "Second Love," is just exquisite. It feels like a sunset, if that makes any sense (probably not). And Emmy's voice is equally precious as it is haunting and ethereal. "Have you ever tried to fail? You should do it some time." There's a touch of Americana in this particular track, which is a welcome change of pace.

"Part of Me" is Emmy's lead single off the album. It's a simple declaration of love - past or present love, existent or non-existent, but which has impacted the party in question in some shape or form. I have exes who I no longer have an inkling of a feeling for, but remain somehow embedded in my system (like the ex-girlfriend who told me I couldn't even tie my shoes right). "Part of Me" starts slow, but it builds off itself. It never reaches groundbreaking heights or majesty, but! It has something to offer, in a humble and sweet way. Like a friend who gives you half a cookie at lunch or a half-eaten Twinkie after a night out (notthatthathaseverhappenedummaybethreetimes).

"Second Love" closes with the acoustic, piano-driven "Lost in You." Weirdly, the song reminded me a lot of "Clean" by Taylor Swift. They seem to conclude their respective albums in similar fashions, except "Lost in You" is definitely the subject matter  opposite of "Clean."

All in all, "Second Love" is a WONDERFUL work. It makes any time waiting for Emmy the Great's third album time well-rewarded. This girl is someone to keep your eye on, as I'm sure we can expect even better things from her in the future.

Emmy is touring the U.S. and parts of Europe this year, but she won't becoming near Phoenix. She will be hitting most major cities, though.

Grade: 89/100
You Need to Hear: Essentially, everything but "Constantly" TBQH
And I Leave You With: see below

If you ever call me "Yoko," she will reach through the computer screen and slap you.
 



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