Sunday, 21 May 2017

EP: Emma O'Reilly - Fractures

Emma O'Reilly Fractures

Info: From Ballinasloe in Co. Galway, songwriter Emma O’Reilly is often compared to Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Regina Spektor for her imaginative yet refined sound. Dramatic and always evocative, Emma’s music is a fusion of Alternative rock, pop and folk, all informed by her classical training at the piano.

'Fractures' is her second independently produced studio EP, recorded by mixing live and multi-track processes in Arad Studios with Les Keye (Squarehead, Kevin "Herm" Connolly, My Sweet Beloved). The EP features Dennis Cassidy on drums (Selk, Mixtapes from the Underground, Danny G and the Major 7ths, The Record Spot), Kevin Healy on Bass (La Gracia, The Antics) and Reuben Teskey on Guitars. The EP explores a sound much closer to her live shows, and digs into her alternative rock influences. The result is alternately introspective and ferocious, vulnerable and dramatic, intricate and engaging.

If you are looking for one of the most original-sounding Irish EP releases from the past few months then look no further than Emma O'Reilly's truly delightful Fractures. There is no escaping the highly enjoyable mania and drama of single and opening track 'Shake', with an emotion and power that comes across as nothing but genuine, the off-beat yet admirably structured percussion wraps an assertive blanket around O'Reilly's vocals and piano playing.

The jingle-jangle of the acoustic 'Count' provide an altogether contrasting mood, yet you still look from left to right cautiously waiting for another burst from O'Reilly, the force is still there, but shortly into the second track we realise that it's a more reflective moment on the EP. There's such a wonderful balance between 90's influences and a rare spark of a contemporary take on same which just isn't being done by anyone else right now to the best of my knowledge, and so much of it is down to the melodious vocals.

And then, whoosh, magic, 'Cervantes', the father of the novel, 'there's a cost to living with the bones under your skin', it's a scathing line, in some ways the tragedies that befall us are pre-ordained by heritage, DNA, or, maybe just chance itself, goddamn the piano is tortuously beautiful and damning all at once. 

Emma O'Reilly - Shake

The fourth track on O'Reilly's EP, 'Codladh Sámh' is as gentle as its title suggests, 'codladh' being sleep, and 'sámh' being one of those Irish words with multiple translations that all mean the same thing; tranquil, soft, peaceful and serene for example, basically the type of sleep we all crave. A brooding opening bass accompanies a very bare vocal; "Whisper to me, or awake my is dangerous outside in this terrible world". Like its opening track, a power is then unleashed via her vocal, shimmering lead guitar and determined piano, go hálainn.

Cathedral bells chime on final track, 'Geneva', the overlay of O'Reilly's voice provides a dual throwback to a 1950's jazz standard á la Julie London, and something contemporary and rare. The piano sequence enters at 1:55 and you are left gasping for breath, it might be the saddest and most beautiful piano sequence you've heard in a long time, I know it was for me. I can't quite put my finger on this EP, it's too hard to pigeon-hole or describe in a small few words, apart from mind-blown.

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