“We Almost Had A Baby” By Emmy The Great
Maybe I really am a negative, cynical bastard because I often have great trouble finding the words to describe the things which move me and make my heart burst with joy. I have sat down on innumerable occasions fingers poised over my keyboard striving to elicit some sort of reasoned, balanced view with regard to Emmy The Great’s debut album “First Love”. After several abortive attempts I decided to set myself some basic ground rules, which I hoped, would enable me to produce an objective viewpoint. I would not indulge in the unedifying spectacle of Kate Winslet style gushing, I would remain resolutely impartial; there would be absolutely no use of clichéd superlatives, and no bloody swearing! … In retrospect I now realise that like Phil Scolari, I was doomed before I had even started. After much procrastination I suddenly thought, “bollocks to that, just write what you feel” as music is surely best when it touches you on an emotional level, so let’s cut to the chase, let’s get it out into the open – “I f**king love this album!”
Greatness comes to those who wait and Emmy The Great’s much anticipated debut album has finally arrived, and oh my hat, was it worth the wait! “First Love” is one of the finest debuts for many, many years. It is without doubt, a magnificent achievement on every level and the quality on display here, would surely give Lady Ga-Ga and her knob-twiddling chums pause for thought, whilst prompting them to consider their long term futures , before sobbing “I give up!! We are not worthy” For as that large trousered lunatic MC Hammer once sang, “U Can’t Touch This”. Emmy has long been considered one of the finest and most astute songwriters around with her unique, intelligent and idiosyncratic take on the world. She has that rare gift of being able to paint vivid pictures, capture moods or relay atmospheres with just a few perfectly chosen words or phrases. Where as James Allan from Glasvegas clumsily attempts to crowbar as many words as possible into a lyric, when three would be perfectly sufficient, Emmy knows the value of the maxim, less is more. If she told you a joke, which initially left you somewhat bemused, one imagines she’d smile enigmatically and leave you to ponder it’s meaning. Mr Allan on the other hand, would probably produce a 2 hour power point presentation to maladroitly hammer home his point and explain exactly why the punch line is actually extremely funny. Thus, as with some of his more cumbersome lyrics, the lack of subtlety often lessens the impact.
Whether Emmy’s relating a hypothetical morality tale such as with “We Almost Had A Baby”, whereby she imagines herself transformed from passive girl to empowered woman via a possible pregnancy, or indulging in laser like dissections of the shortcomings that often reside within the male psyche, she proves herself to be an honest, brave and unflinching songwriter. It’s surely no accident, that she manages to deftly hit upon many universal truths, as she undoubtedly has a firmer grasp on the capricious nature of the human condition than the understated vulnerability within the album may initially first suggest. “First Love”, which takes its title from a novella by the frankly unfathomable Samuel Beckett, recounts the emotional turmoil of young loves dream, interwoven with religious imagery, pop culture references, dark humour, death, and sex. It’s presented with startling candour, which paradoxically combines endearing innocence with wisdom beyond her years.
Of course if being inspired, provoked and moved isn’t enough for you then there’s also the brilliance of the story telling. It’s only when you really listen to Emmy Great and delve beneath the surface of these seemingly harmless sounding tunes that you get to appreciate what a naturally gifted, poetic songwriter this young lady is. Take a song like “MIA“, sounds innocent enough at first, but wait -upon further investigation it transpires that the songs narrator is trapped within the twisted wreckage of a car crash, her lover dead, his head smashed against the radio “which survived the blow” and is “still playing some compilation you made”. Whilst contemplating her impending demise, and by way of distraction, she begins to hum along to the radio and deliberates over the correct way to pronounce M.I.A., as she recalls “I always liked this singer/ I remember how you were the one who told me that her name /was either Mia/ or M. I.A.” …It’s strangely moving, filled with gallows humour and I can’t think of another songwriter who could so adroitly pull off such a feat.
The pop culture references continue in“24” which stars out as a diatribe against a boyfriend who rather bafflingly, would rather spend his time in the company of Jack Bauer on TV than with her, and ends up prompting some sort of metaphysical meltdown…”’24 for every year that I have slipped day by day into the neck of the abyss”. In “Dylan” the man in question fares no better, and comes across about as enlightened as Bernard Manning perusing “Nuts” Magazine at lap dancing bar when he implies that woman can’t possibly relate to or understand the music of Bob Dylan in the same cerebral way men do!” “Dylan is a sentiment that you don’t wanna share”- Men eh? Pfft. Can’t live with em, can’t write albums without ’em ;)
One can only hope, that in an age when albums are often half listened to and discarded at the click of a mouse, unless there is instant gratification, and while the NME continue to fawn over the latest case of “the emperors new clothes”, people will allow themselves time to experience this album fully. I’m firmly of the view that “First Love” is nothing short of a bona-fide classic, it really does demand and deserve your attention. The fact that the entire CD contains no fillers or weak tunes makes it virtually impossible to pick the albums standout tracks. If push came to shove I’d probably have to go for ” Absentee”, “24”, “We Almost Had A Baby”, “The Easter Parade”, “Dylan”, “On the Museum Island”, “War”, “First Love”, “MIA”, “The Easter Parade 2”, “Bad Things Coming We Are Safe”, “Everything Reminds Me of You”, and “City Song”.
The only minor grumble’s are that “First Love” has cast a mighty shadow over my entire record collection, rendering it obsolete, as nothing else seems comparable at present. I suppose I could also bleat about the absence of re-recorded versions of “Canopies and Grapes,” “Secret Circus,” or “Gabriel” but then again, as previously mentioned, Emmy knows that less is more. A perfect debut, a timeless classic, buy it, love it cherish it!
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“We Almost Had A Baby” – Emmy The Great