sat 19/10/2019

Emmy the Great, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow review - emotions recollected | reviews, news & interviews

Emmy the Great, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow review - emotions recollected

Emmy the Great, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow review - emotions recollected

Singer-songwriter performs her first album 'First Love' 10 years on

Emmy The Great goes back to her musical rootsAlex Lake

“I appreciate the irony of me singing this in my mum jeans,” says Emmy The Great, whose five-month-old is travelling with her on this tour, before playing “We Almost Had a Baby”. Despite its jaunty little riff the song, from her 10-year-old debut album, is a desperately sad one, about a pregnancy scare.

Emma-Lee Moss was in her early 20s when she wrote the songs that would become First Love and the record is a time capsule packed with broken hearts, dramatic short stories, pop culture references and the intense, deep love for this person, and that song, that feels all-consuming in one’s youth. While 10 years on, we - and Emmy, for that matter - may have forgotten some of the words, the feelings they captured quickly come flooding back.

These anniversary shows are a straight, gimmick-free run-through of First Love performed solo on a selection of guitars and, occasionally, a keyboard. For Moss, whose more experimental recent work has centred computers and glitchy electronics, it’s a chance to go back to her musical roots as well as revisit old memories, with stripped-back renditions channeling her early online demos as much as the lusher, fleshed-out album.

Opener “Absentee” is simple and stately, the “kyrie eleison” refrain rising gently like a hymn while “Easter Parade”, another song in which Christian rituals play a part, is quietly affecting without the recorded version’s choir, turning the narrator even more into a solitary observer. Performed on keyboard, “War”, a song whose classical grandiosity at the heart of the album demands a pause to change sides, is softer, more vulnerable.

Moss’s lyrical dexterity set her apart from the crop of young London-based singer-songwriters from which she emerged, and the intimate setting allows for her stories to be appreciated anew. “24” may have pre-dated Netflix and chill, but the clever way it combines a birthday, a mental breakdown and the titular TV drama seems ever-more timely. “M.I.A.”, a stream-of-consciousness song from the point of view of the survivor in the immediate aftermath of a car accident, is more haunting than ever in this format; while “First Love”, which references both Samuel Beckett and Leonard Cohen, is pure poetry, forgotten lyrics only adding to the intimacy.

As for Emmy, she admits to being “more emotional than usual”, partly driven by Glasgow’s constant presence through 10 years of touring. “It’s the same baked potato, but the sign now says no smoking AND no vaping,” she says, quickly spiralling into some science-fiction future where vaping is passé and gig-goers show up in self-driving cars. There seems no question that we’ll be checking back in 10 years down the line, the “City Song” lyric that wonders “what will you look like when you’re old? what will I do if I don’t know you?” sounding more poignant than ever.

For an encore, no greatest hits collection but rather contemporaneous B-sides to prolong the nostalgia. The passage of time is particularly clear on “Canopies and Drapes”, now that Jazz lives in Hastings and the cultural references require correction to remove the names of known sexual harassers. But the best part is knowing that, for the girl who cried into letterboxes in the aftermath of the painful break-up captured memorably in that song, it all turned out okay in the end.

The record is a time capsule packed with broken hearts, dramatic short stories and pop culture references

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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