Emma Swindells EP
The first thing about this EP that strikes you before you hear a single note is the exquisite packaging, a lot of time and effort has been put into making a quite beautiful artefact, with a gatefold sleeve and a high quality glossy finish. This is also a bit of a family affair so as well as Emma, we get fellow siblings Clare on backing vocals, and Laura on drums.Emma’s writing style is very direct and personal, occasionally leaning towards the comedic, take “Itch” for instance which is dressed as a very traditional sounding song with fiddle and banjo happily trundling along while the lyrics talk about receiving a “Facebook friend request”, from an old “high school” crush.
It is a recurring friendship that never ends well. Things kick up a gear with “Flatline”, about living your life to the full, with the truism ”it’s not about the years in our life but the life within the years”. The "flatline", equating to a life with no highs and no lows, you get once chance “you can’t rewind and relive it” is an affirming message running through the track. In this song, the banjo provides the key backing riff right from the very start and fits in much better with the overall sound.
“Dancing on My Own” the tale of a night out in Midlands disco, is a strange song in that you can listen to it one way, and it seems quite comedic, as we watch a drunken lothario making a nuisance of himself, it even has a comedy glass chink at one point. However, taken another way it is a rather sad indictment of male behaviour and gives an impression of what it is like to be bothered by unwanted advances.
“Shadow” is a complete change of pace and instrumentation, opening with an intriguing guitar riff It is the sad story of meeting the right person only to find they are with someone else. A relationship that “begins with a glance” and where “a connection” seems to be made but where the partner already has someone looking over them. The drums kick in about two thirds of the way through as the song drives towards the somewhat sad but inevitable conclusion where the singer admits defeat, and concedes “to your shadow”. It is the best realised vocal, and the best recorded track of the EP. The final song of the EP, “Thicker Skin” is perhaps the most commercially sounding track, starting with a neat guitar riff, for a song which looks back to Emma’s life at a previous employment with a bullying boss, one who verbally throws “daggers that cut deep”. Vocally there is a greater deal of confidence on display This EP is by no means faultless but there is a great deal of promise, and a progression in both song writing and development of songs, that suggests that Emma will be worth tracking throughout 2017 to see if her excellent live performances can be captured and transferred to the recording studio.While we’re rifling through Emma’s back catalogue, we can also highly recommend the acoustic EP “Flatline” for an earlier version of the title track which is interesting as it shows where the song began. Also included is the hopeful “Path’s Haven’t Crossed”, detailing that there is someone out there who could be your ideal match, you just haven’t met them. It’s a nice companion piece to the main cd and well worth investigating.