Paula O'Reilly is fast becoming the Queen of Americana drama, her songs rarely arrive in anything other than cinema scope, rich in drama and action, even the cover for this one could be a movie poster. Her latest single has all that and ithas also revived a type of song that we've not seen in ages - a true conversational duet.
For "Emergency Call", Paula has enlisted the assistance of her 14 year old daughter Molly in a song that has many layers to it. The essence of the song is establishing that there is always someone you can call no matter what, in this case it is the mother who is that person.
Based on a real conversation and no doubt with good intentions this heart to heart conversation seemingly at first goes a quickly off the rails
"If you've got a problem and don't know how to fix it
I'll take it to the grave i'll say nothing at all
Have a little trust I don't want you risk it
I don't want to see my little angel fall - always make me be your Emergency Call"
It's a lot to drop on a teenager and Molly's initial reaction is almost to laugh it off with a touch of teenage nonchalance and disdain,
"Mama you know I'm not that kind of girl - I'll never lose control never go to far".
As things progress, there is something of a hurtful put down that assumes that parents cannot relate to the issues of today.
"How would you know? You can't relate - You grew up in another century"
There is a lovely section midway through where Paula and Molly's vocals beautifully contrast
Paula "I won't judge you" - Molly - "Please don't judge me"
Paula "Don't be afraid" - Molly" I'm so afraid"
It all leads to what is both the key line in the song and the reasons behind Paula's concern
"Don't wanna see you make the same mistakes I made"
The final attack on the chorus sees time leap forward, and Molly takes lead vocal as she activates the call she had casually dismissed earlier. For someone so young she is able to give the vocals that a real sense of reality and there is a feeling she that she is in some distress.
Musically "Emergency Call" is unassuming,mainly letting the drama play out up front, and just occasionally puncturing the mix with neat little touches such as the organ that kicks in and lifts things just before Paula and Molly's midway section/ It all goes to make undoubtedly another success for Paula, and we'll be very much surprised if we are not reviewing Molly in her own right in the years to come, such is the presence she makes with this performance.