Emma’s Imagination have always had that enviable knack of being able to produce music that appeals to both the staunchest hipsters and to the listeners of mainstream chart music and her new EP Underway proves this yet again. This is her follow up collection to debut album Stand Still and while not quite reaching the high standards she set herself; this EP is a pleasant glance into where she is heading musically.
Where Stand Still was the perfect summer soundtrack, Underway could prove to be a perfect accompaniment to the dreary winters us Scots have to endure. Opening track Let You Go quickly sets the tone of the EP with the stripped back, atmospheric lone guitar that allows Emma’s voice take centre stage, and it doesn’t disappoint. The haunting tones from Gillespie coupled with the beautiful classic guitar provide an excellent introduction to the EP.
Next track Pour It Out begins with a guitar riff that would not be out of place in a classic spaghetti western and that theme continues throughout the song. Almost channelling American folk duo The Civil Wars, her wonderfully crisp vocals complement the guitar work perfectly.
The biggest surprise on the EP comes from the cover of Deftones track Change. Emma achieves something rarely achieved in covers; she makes the track her own but still manages to keep the qualities that make this song so special. Her sombre vocals over the elegant, distinctive guitar make this the most impressive cover I have heard since Johnny Cash’s Hurt.
Unfortunately, it is in the second half of the EP which loses way as Bells and All About You are just far too similar to opener Let You Go to excite the listener. Alone, both of these songs are superb, however I am not convinced they belong on this particular EP.
Finally, we are treated to an upbeat track you expect from Emma’s Imagination in closing song Arms of Gold. A buoyant melody along with some calming vocals provide a cheery end to what is a dark EP.
Underway is enough for us to see that Emma’s Imagination is still making excellent music, however I feel it is probably two songs too long. Still, it is a terrific insight into what we can expect from Emma’s Imagination in the future and is an excellent stopgap between Stand Still and her next full-length release.
- Stuart Thompson
Emma's Imagination - Underway is out now via Pebble Island Records. You can download the EP via iTunes here.