Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Cup Full of Breathiness, A Droopy T-Shirt

Do you have the same Emilys that I have? I recently realized that I've been listening to a definite three, definite in their femininity, definite in their quirkiness, definite in their studious musicianship: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Emily Jane White, and Emily Wells.

Emily Haines's voice is very crisp and childlike, emotionally playful and beguiling. As Metric's short-skirted front person, (you can see evidence of this in the Olivier Assayas film Clean), Knives Don't Have Your Back makes for an interesting solo debut. Emily Haines by herself offers a brazen, folk-punky pretty kind of personal flavor, which explores emotion (where Metric is limited to new wavey rock) and grief for the loss of her father Paul Haines, Montreal poet and jazz musician. Emily Haines' music is playful. "Bros before hos," for example, is kind of irono-funny lyric accompanied by beautiful piano playing. What I wish the album had was more bricks. I'm attracted to the lonely woman lost in the thick of it all quality, but the album tends to lack depth where it has reach. Her heartfelt music becomes a bit boxy and I find the most memorable song to be the first.

You'll encounter a new kind of folk singin' in Emily Jane White. Her tough, soldier-popping and soft hip swaying music has a minimalist folky western yet match-stick struck on the sole of your boot flare. Where Eilen Jewell is perky, Emily Jane White is alluringly sleepy and existential. This music is born of a strong aesthetic, which I'd like for you to see in one of her videos.

What attracts me to Emily Wells, kind of solely, is her fabulous use of strings. Her song, "Mt. Washington," snakes her violin around her moanful lyrics. "We go together like bleeding lips" is a fetching lyric and her violin tiptoes around her words, animating them. Her voice gives over to demure, feminine breathiness and this dragging, droning until her voice turns into air seems to be her overall style, which is a tad redundant. Breathiness is a weird issue in music because women singers use their breathiness as sex appeal or to stylistically cover up a lack of range, as though all women have to have a high voice in order to be able to perform.

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