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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE



The joy of watching live music is that occasionally those "I was there when..." moments occur when something magical happens. Such an event happened at Buckle & Boots 2023 when Emilia Quinn would take to her keyboard to close out what had already been a five star set with a new song "Backroads". In her relatively short career she had already amassed a fine body of work, yet this one song, even on first hearing seemed to transcend them all and suggest a whole new world of opportunities opening up.

When "Backroads" eventually surfaced on Emilia's debut album "Wanderlust & Breaking Rules" it was a perfectly fine version yet somehow it never quite matched the vision #TEAMw21 had on the day but then we had envisaged a full orchestra at Abbey Road so that's no wonder!! It's such a "Big" song it just needs that sense of space to truly exist.

In lieu of Emilia being able to hire the Royal Philharmonic for a day, we've got the next best thing, a live version, not from that Buckle & Boots show but a subsequent one in Birmingham, and hopefully you'll be able to get sense of what we felt that day. For a start Emilia's vocals are far superior, heightened by playing in front of a live audience, it is an impossible feeling one would imagine no matter how hard you try to capture that adrenaline racing around your body in a studio environment - a bit like practicing penalties against taking them with thousands watching on and your countries hopes riding on your shoulders. Secondly John W Doyle's guitar seems to come in slightly earlier in it's muted form before being set free like a caged bird to really soar and swirl when the magnificent solo comes in.

It is not just the performance though that needs this bigger stage, this is Emilia laying out out a bold life changing vision in her lyrics and that surely demands a huge canvas to work with.

So to set the scene, Emilia has just finished her previous song, the crowd are baying for more, she has gently lifted her guitar over her head and gingerly moved between the cables to take her seat at the keyboard. This is at the end of what has been an hour long plus set during which she has given her all - the rockier numbers requiring the most demanding ask of her vocal chords. The crowd noise has dropped to a hush, there may have been a short introduction detailing how the song came to be, an idea that materialised while driving home from a previous Buckle & Boots and her fingers are now poised above the keys - ready to create magic

The intro immediately has a sense of importance - imagine Paul McCartney bashing out the opening chords to "Let It Be" it announces that something of note is coming. There's a light huskiness in the vocal delivery, as mentioned this is at the end of a long set, but just marvel at the way the final three alliterative words are delivered, that little pause and drop in volume between "sleeping" and "sound".

"All worth having don’t come easy

The road less travelled’s been known to beat me down

But I found comfort in the chaos

These days I struggle sleeping sound"

The first verse is then repeated before the dive into the chorus, it addresses the realisation that to grab the big prizes in life may mean making difficult decisions.

"But I keep driving I keep driving down these back roads

Always hurting while I’m learning how to let go

And I keep searching for changes In the same old places

Leaving’s bittersweet but I have to try"

The second verse proper sees John's guitar becoming ever more prominent, though still playing a background role. The lyrics again capture the sense of nervousness that comes with the uncertainty of what lies ahead yet also the hope that it will deliver what is being searched for.

"Caught between a restless soul and homebody heart

All I’ve known is leaving and new starts

And I hope I’ll find peace along the journey

When I do I’ll ask her to join me"

It is only after the second chorus that the shackles come off John's guitar and he produces a suitably epic guitar solo, the overall sound also beefed up by the arrival of the pounding drum sound to give the sheer sense of grandeur required.

"My heart is worn like the tyres on my car

Still deciding who I am who I wanna come

The road has already left behind miles and It’s just begun"

The band then drop away to leave just Emilia and John back to his muted guitar sound

Just listen at the way that the following line is now delivered

"Leaving’s bittersweet but I have to try" - "Leaving's bittersweet" is almost spoken while "Try" is stretched out with the gentlest of singing voices. There then follows a few seconds of silence before the band return with a vengeance and Emilia let's loose an extended fearsome "Try" at full volume.

Emilia announces "Thank you so much" gets up and leaves the stage while the band provide one final burst of immaculate playing to bring this six minute plus epic to a close.

Live records are notoriously only for the die hard fans however if you have ever seen Emilia play or want to get sense of what you would get - this single is an essential listen.

"Backroads Live" is available for pre-save now -

If you'd like to see Emilia in perhaps a more sedate stripped back environment then we have more good news





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