There are some artists that make an impression that lasts from the very first time that you them, and Emma McGrath is one such person. As a 17 year old she was first on a bill at the sadly no more Borderline, along with The Worry Dolls, and her short performance drew many compliments including this from our review at the time that we "feel fairly certain this is a name we'll all know in the years to come". - well that time may well be now.
In truth she has made some excellent recordings in between times and that prophecy should have come true long before now. In many ways "Say Something" embodies many of the things that we found so appealing on the night where she switched from guitar to keyboard, announcing she was no piano player before putting in a faultless performance, for it opens with just keyboard and vocals.
"Oh to be, someone who can say what they mean,
someone who can talk about it, never doubt it, drop their guard and laugh about it".
The song deals with those relationships that may never be, the ones waiting for that initial first move to be made, friendships that may remain just that , "Perfectly I see the things that we could be", comes with the worry of "what if more becomes too much?"
With a chorus that takes on an almost spiritual feeling with some excellent backing vocals sounding choir like, the question is asked
"If life is for loving why is it always so hard just to say something straight from the heart?"
With Emma's vocals capturing the requisite amount of hope and angst this is pretty much as perfect a pop song as you'll hear all year.
Earlier this year Emma released her "Keep Your Eyes Open" EP, which came in 2 versions, the second, the acoustic version gives another insight into just what we saw that night all those years ago.
4 slices of minimalist instrumentation, just a guitar, a piano, Emma, some occasional backing vocals and a little echo, are all that is needed to present the tracks in this stripped back highly engaging format.
In some places Emma barely needs to whisper out the lines, "Old Times" is a particularly impressive performance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the first version of the EP, however what it adds in terms of making it more radio friendly, it cannot help but lose some of the intimacy that these recordings contain.
There are plenty more gems to find in Emma's repertoire, and time invested investigating it will be time well spent, "Honey" from "The Judgement" EP still sounds as fresh and nonchalant as the day it was released.