Emma Stevens’ 2nd EP Dreaming Trees may just be the perfect antidote to our freezing weather, X Factor culture and the doom and gloom that seems to be enveloping everyone.
Surrey singer-songwriter Emma Stevens came to my attention last year with the release of her debut EP Heart On Hand, which marked her out as a new talent to keep an eye out for. She’s back with a second EP that fulfils all that promise and a lot lot more.
Lead track Once is a tale of finding love after a series of disappointments and is full of the exuberance of that feeling. Whilst the lyrics talk of “once I’ve finally found you, was never going to let you go, I didn’t hesitate, I couldn’t wait, all the other guys just evaporated” , the music is equally lovestruck, there’s a descending scale in a couple of points of the song that’s so outrageous in its execution that you can’t help but smile at it. Add in to the mix some almost perfect sixties-style female harmonies and some bold key changes and you have possibly the most perfect pop record you’ll hear this year.
It’d be hugely unfair to expect the other three tracks to live up to this standard, but they have a good shot at it. The Star That Guides You Home is driven by a jangly guitar and subtle percussion that let Emma’s dreamy vocals promise to look after an unspecified friend – “if you feel like a raincloud is hanging right over your head, I’ve got an umbrella that you can share so that you’ll never get wet”. The EP’s title track slows the mood down, but isn’t any less impressive and allows Emma to show a wider, more emotional edge to her voice.
Final track Give A Little Bit starts with Emma counting herself in and could be lifted straight from one of the classic girl groups of the 60s, singing of sharing happiness and love “why don’t you give a little bit, a little bit of what you’ve got, because a whole lot of little soon becomes a lot” with those female harmonies of Once making a reappearance. It could be extremely cheesy and sickly, but it keeps itself the right side of the line and matches Once for that feel-good warmth.
For someone only on their second release, albeit with a wealth of songwriting experience behind her for other artists, Dreaming Trees is a startling statement of intent, a combination of a beautiful voice, thoughtful lyrics that everyone can relate to, a sing-along, tap your feet mood and instrumentation that goes off to places that shouldn’t really work but which sound just right. It’s pop, it’s folk, it’s indie, it’s kitsch, it’s wonderful.
Emma’s official website, including details of her tour dates supporting the EP release, can be found here, the EP purchased in physical form along with Heart On Hand in her store or from iTunes. She is on Twitter and Facebook as well.
All words by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here