Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Emma Stevens - To My Roots

Singer-songwriter Emma Stevens has released her third studio album to those who supported the songs via Pledge Music ahead of its official release on the 21st July 2017 and for those eagerly awaiting her latest long player will be happy to know it's another triumphant feel-good mix of well written, sung and produced pop-folk tunes.

Coming in at a running time somewhere between her debut and follow-up 'Waves', 'To My Roots' doesn't really divert from her familiar sound but when it's as fun and welcoming as this that isn't a problem, and it feels like this record could be the first album to herald the warmth and joy of summer for 2017.

Coming in at twelve original tracks and a cover (more on that later), there's much to enjoy here and aside from a fewer slower numbers 'To My Roots' is a relentlessly enthusiastic and energetic ride and one that boasts a bigger more confident production sound than her earlier works. Opener 'Sing Out (Hey La Hey Lo)' feels like a live favourite in the making and the ode to 'sing out' is matched by the fun chorus. Second track 'Money Can't Buy Me' with its name-checking of Marilyn Monroe and Madonna feels like a single-contender thanks to its energy and sunniness.

The title track comes in at position number three and is another bouncy pop number with a strong focus on nature woven into its four-minutes. 'Brave' is the first of the slower numbers and though it's not Stevens' best ballad it's a definite grower and the lyrics are well observed.

'Achilles Heel' is the freshest sounding song on the record and a personal favourite thanks to its big chorus, catchy bridge and relentless energy. 'Loyalty' is another single contender with its uplifting and motivational lyrics all wrapped up in another catchy pop number.

Hitting the half way point, 'Song and Dance' slows things down for the verses before kicking up the pace for the chorus, once more marrying some touching lyrics with a jaunty multi-instrumental tune. 'Slow' which follows, with its 'stop the clock'-led hook, is a smooth song with subtle country elements and feels like another core part of the album, the sea-references painting a perfect picture.

With its vinyl-scratching open and rock and roll vibe, 'Shoot the Breeze With Me' feels like the most distinctive track on the LP that balances Stevens' familiar sound with a few more production tricks and instrument licks. 'Written in the Stars' is the album's lighter-out moment, beautifully written and sung, and 'With You' is another more gentle, heartfelt track. 'Let in the Good', as expected, is an uplifting and inspiring end to the main album and will leave you with a smile on your face.

But that's not the end. Fitting for someone who recently was on the UK judging panel for Eurovision, we get a slowed down, more thoughtful, piano-focussed version of Katrina and the Waves' winning entry from two decades ago - 'Walking on Sunshine'. Offering a refreshingly more subdued take on it, this is a great cover to end on.

For fans of Emma Stevens this fits in nicely with the last two albums. It's not a huge departure from her sound and a couple of songs are perhaps a little close to some of her older material in feel and sound but overall this is a perky, happy pop-number that will lift your spirits. Delightful! (7.5/10)

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