Emilia Quinn - Medicate EP
The disturbing cover for Emila Quinn's latest EP has been floating around for a few weeks now - coming with the title "Medicate" and promising to be her most personal release to date, one that will break your heart yet somehow make you feel stronger for it. Even an age where we like to think we are immune to the powers of PR, this campaign did set up the feeling of anticipation that something of note was about to drop.
In truth, here at TEAMw21 we have that sense of eagerness each time Emilia plans a release but we were especially intrigued by this one, a collection of songs born in the height of pandemic lockdown dealing with real issues and tackling them head on .
It was therefore a relief to see Emilia looking well at the recent Buckle & Boots Festival where she will surely return one day with her awesome live show.
"Worse Than Whiskey" which opens the EP, may sound like a run of the mill Country title, however this is far from that, The opening drumbeats, lead to a pedal steel and guitar before Emilia joins immediately setting the scene
"Back to back after another pointless commotion, It's so hard to break through to your emotion"
There's a heightened sense of drama from the lyrics that clearly convey that all is not well. There's a decision to be made,whether to persevere or call it a day, however by the next verse it seems that the choice has already been made and not by Emilia,
"Like a faded old sweater I'm calling you safe - but today you are threadbare yelling for space"
Emilia's voice carries the sense of heartbreak, tinged with frustration and disappointment, only for the search to begin again in the later verse.
"So the sun sets on another new face, maybe this one will learn to love my embrace"
The closing visit to the chorus is delivered with some force
"Your double edged kisses are burning my throat" while the follow up line, the elongated
"worse than whiskey" has captured Emila's tenderest piece of singing to date.
"High" again is not quite what it might seem to be at first glance, the chorus line line may end up on "I'd rather get high" however this is no jokey drug song, and finds Emilia once again being open an honest with the listener.
"I'd rather get stoned than face my problems
I'd rather have a drink than another fight
I'd rather let time roll by faster by getting high"
With more of an acoustic band sound and a greater attention to backing vocals ( which at times are a veritable choir ) than perhaps we've seen before this is a different sounding Emilia. There is at least recognition that this could be leading to a longer term problem
"Let my vices take over my soul"
"Pretty Pink Pills" holds the line that gives the EP its title, perhaps the most startling song of the EP, starting with Emilia unsettling the listener, clearly in a state of distress. The guitar sounds may sound confident but the voice when it comes in is like nothing else on the EP, deeper, almost a little drowsy at the start as she openly confronts us with the quick answer for everyone who is feeling depressed.
"Pretty pink pills - help bring you back when you lose yourself
1 2 3 three times a day with a meal"
There are some harsh realities being addressed here
"Life's meant to hurt - How do you know you've been cut if there's no nerve?"
By the end of the song Emilia is righteously angry, her vocals now razor sharp and she almost spits out
"Medicate and switch off that light, here's a diagnosis to hide behind
Truth hurts and life's a bitch, it's easier to swallow little pills"
Within the confines of a three and half minute song, Emilia is able to relate her previous personal experiences and shine a light on an area that is often swept under the carpet. It's a brave and unflinchingly honest performance and if the listener at times feels uncomfortable and is forced to think about the subject , then bravo Emilia you have done a great job as a songwriter.
"Headrush" sees a return to personal conflict once again we seem be in the midst of a relationship issue - if the relationship in "Worse Than Whiskey" was one that she knew should probably end then the one in "Headrush" is one she is pleading so save, with Emilia nicely using criminal imagery to full effect
Feels like I'm a court room , judge and jury is you - but you've got it all wrong
Going down for something that I never did - God it hurts so much
I wish I could show you - maybe convince you
That you are my only one"
There's a plaintive pleading that all is not as it seems but some things are unable to be reasoned out if the person you are dealing with is unreasonable.
"Demons in your head - spinning it around
Making you see things that would never go down"
It's so hard when you're so stubborn - and I know I ain't done wrong"
As with Pretty Pink Pills there is almost a choir of backing vocals however the closing drama is set with just Emilia and an acoustic guitar as she sings
"I will love you forever ..... let me love you forever" followed by what seems an eternity but is a matter of seconds before Emile delivers a final take on the chorus sounding almost broken, exhausted as if accepting defeat.
True to her word Emilia has bared her soul, with a batch of songs that give an insight into how she has become the person she is today. She is most certainly one of the most fascinating performers on the UK Americana scene.