If you want further proof that the soul of country music has gravitated east across the Cumberland River then listen no further than this debut release from Aussie songstress Emma Swift. Her roots and current base may be Antipodean but East Nashville has been a past point of settlement, hopefully a future place of residence and always her true spiritual home. This 6 track collection of divine entrancing pure country gold will have you drooling for the half hour it takes to infiltrate your senses. She may have gone to Nashville to learn but this release can cross the divide and teach others how to make a record and label it ‘country’.
Of course in this media driven age, Emma Swift is going to be labelled alt country or Americana suggesting she is doing something different. However an alternative view is that she has her pulse on the real thing as this pedal steel driven batch of sad songs, drizzled with soul and sung at a luring pace, oozes with golden class from start to finish.
Recorded in Nashville and including a cast of quality Music City session players, this self-titled mini album yearns for your attention right from the gorgeous opening track ‘Bitter Sweet’ which sets the tone and groove of the record. With visions of lazy days and the feel of an aching heart, this song earmarked for promotion is a worthy candidate for stand out track and Emma, in her other role as music broadcaster, knows well the nuances and value of airplay to target audiences. It is a credit to the release that all five other numbers push this stand out song to the limit starting with the heart breaking second track ‘James’ which continues the sad theme.
The substance of this mini album, made for vinyl and designed for that late night bar, sees Emma generally steer clear of short songs as epitomised by the 8:32 long ‘King of America’ where she gets the balance right and lets the fine musicians take you on a trance-like journey. ‘Seasons’ is a song of Emma’s that has been around for a while and gets the retro drenched treatment to tap into the mood of the album. Emma is currently back in Australia hosting a specialist alt-country/Americana radio show on a new digital station and if the quality of her playlist matches that of the final two tracks ‘Total Control’ and ‘Woodland Street’ then the listeners are in for a treat. Both are meaty efforts laced with plenty of steel and carry you into the darker hours awash with a blissful sound.
With a chink of late night empty glasses and the creation of a mood for pondering and self-reflection, the music of Emma Swift shows how effective a single gear sound can be as long as it’s beautifully sung, exquisitely crafted and built on heartfelt honesty. The intention is for Emma to return to Nashville to complete that elusive full length album but in the meantime this record is far more than just a tantalising teaser and can make its mark alongside trademark albums from more established artists.