Friday, July 16, 2010

The Return of Emma

I'm so excited. 

Had I mentioned that I'm a huge fan of Emma Shapplin? Her musical style has, in the past, combined the classical and operatic with more pop/new age whatnot -- creating a style all her own. There are other people, yes, who experiment with classical crossover, but none that I've seen who do so as drastically as Emma while still maintaining such quality vocals. 

Her previous two albums I've enjoyed again and again, but with the years going by and nothing new coming (not even posts on a website), I was beginning to think she was gone forever. 

And then what did I find two weeks ago? Emma Shapplin's newest album, Macadam Flower, came out last year. And I didn't know. Imagine. Don't fault me for being so behind: I had no regularly-updated website to go to, and all the places I occasionally searched for her on were U.S.-based. This album, as yet, has no U.S. release, so it was only happening upon her new music video on Youtube that informed me of its existence.

The music video I wasn't sure on. It's much more a pop song than her previous work. Searching a bit more, I grew concerned. I'd thought that whatever stylistic choices Emma made to accommodate her artistic needs and desires, I could be sure of her voice as the constant. But she sings differently on this album. Is she gone forever to me just as if this album had never been released, as I'd feared?

Not quite. It took a little getting used to, but I'm really liking Macadam Flower now. Sure, it might not be what keeps us coming back for more, yet that doesn't mean it has no value. Emma's poetic self comes through strong as ever (if not more since a few of the songs are in English, and I hence need no translation for them). Each song creates an atmosphere; that's what I enjoy.

I had always wondered what Emma used to sound like when she sang for a rock band back before her first record. Perhaps "Reptile" and "Jealously Yours" have a similar strain? (Note: these two may well be my favorite of the album. "The Hours On The Fields," "Absolu," and "My Soul" are all great, too. . . "Nothing Wrong" also starts to grow on you. . . I know, that's half the CD).

For Emma Shapplin fans, it's a must, if only as an observation of her style. For the newcomers, as well, I hope it will please.

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