Emmy The GreatIn Indie, Pop
“A clever, entrancing record” – 8/10, UNCUT
“Moss is a dab hand at writing about affairs of the heart” – ****, Q
“A meticulously crafted and presented, subtle and mature piece of work” – ****, Record Collector
Emmy The Great has released her third album ‘Second Love’ via Bella Union to critical acclaim.
There is a distinct nod to her debut ‘First Love’, in terms of the storytelling that first impressed her lyrical and emotional dexterity upon so many. But on Second Love, Emma-Lee Moss delves into the chambers of a human heart ever-connected to the glare of a nearby screen. This is an album imbued with modern sounds, a nod to new eras, while maintaining the human warmth always associated with an ETG album. The songs are full of emotion and questioning, with the chatter of friends and collaborators ‘coded’ into the sonic landscape.
Opener ‘Swimming Pool’ – taken from 2015’s critically acclaimed S EP – set the tone. Sketched out in Asian cities during a tour, and competed in a North London studio in the summer of 2012, its undulating grace became a sound Emma spent “three years trying to chase.” These tender, glacial arrangements lead Second Love’s exploration through a new world, filtered through technology.
“For a long time, I thought the album would be about technology and the future, so I wrote a lot of songs ‘about’ stuff – like ‘Swimming Pool’ or ‘Solar Panels’ or about the magazines in ‘Hyperlink’,” says Emma. “But this didn’t feel right. It was only when I started using these things to write about love that everything came together.”
Despite recording in tiny snatches, burrowing herself away in friend’s bedrooms, borrowed studios and hotel rooms – “If I had to write down the locations of every recording session the credits would have around 30 people’s houses in it”, says Emma – ‘Second Love’ remains a resolute whole, a delicate balance of songs and sounds that mirror the personal discoveries she made while making the album.
With fitting synchronicity, Emma progressed from writing and recording guitar and vocals to programming and engineering. Advances in sound are balanced against classic songwriting, with each song’s core left to breathe amidst a glistening whirr of spiralling layers of sound and voices.
Acoustic guitars step into harmonies like dappled sunlight on ‘Algorithm’, distant sirens flicker and synthesisers echo as we fall into lovestruck bio-mechanic balladry. “It’s about searching for meaning in the noise,” says Emma, “It encapsulates the feeling behind the whole album.”
Elsewhere, the sadness swept through ‘Constantly’ bubbles with minimal grace before gliding into a crystalline chorus, as bright as the laptop screen that lights a depressed friend’s eyes. “Your iris is a universe, your laptop it is glowing, and you say, this world comes in waves, constantly,” she sings.
The roll call of talent enlisted to assist Emmy The Great’s new albums is as impressive as the vision itself. Produced by Dave McCracken (Oh Land/ Beyonce) & Ludwig Goransson (Haim/ Childish Gambino), and mixed by Neil Comber (MIA), the album features musicians from far and wide, including Tom Fleming (Wild Beasts), Leo Abrahams (Pulp/ Brian Eno), Simon Oscroft (MXTHER), Henry Kwapis, O Karmina, Du Blonde (aka Beth Jeans Houghton), Nick Trepka (Speech Debelle), Fyfe Dangerfield (Guillemots), Gabriel Bruce, and her brother Robin Moss, with writer and broadcaster Jon Ronson authoring the album’s liner notes.