Sunday, 22 October 2017

Album of the Month: Emma Langford - Quiet Giant

Emma Langford - Quiet Giant

Info: Following the huge success of her self-titled EP in 2016, praised by Hotpress Magazine as "angelic", Emma Langford returns with her debut album 'Quiet Giant' set for release this Winter. The album showcases ten tracks, set against a stunning backdrop of strings, percussion and piano. The songs 
dance lightly between genres, weaving a coming-of-age narrative that explores love, heartbreak, and wrestling with self-doubt.  

'Quiet Giant' was recorded amidst the rolling pastures of Portlaoise at Golden Egg Studios, with Grammy nominated producers Graham Murphy & Chris O'Brien of the Production Suite in Dublin. The album lands just as Langford embarks on a tour of Germany and Switzerland throughout October and November with the Irish Folk Festival. Full-band Irish and UK tour dates to follow. 

From it's very beginning Limerick artist Emma Langford's debut album Quiet Giant will whisk your mind and soul away to places they've always yearned for. The self-titled track is an arresting start, her vocals nodding to one Joni Mitchell on the softer moments and then soaring on to unique heights as the swell gathers. 'Sandman' has a delightfully moody jazz-swing feel to it, Langford gently whispering in our ears on the verses and then becoming more forthright as she hits the chorus, piano and strings dance together, accentuating that 1930's dance-hall vibe. 

With 'Closed Book' the energy that has been building thus far breaks into a thumping stride, locomotive percussion and frenetic string arrangements thundering around her powerful voice with stunning force. As the track reaches it's break around the 2:05 mark I'm visualising Nina Simone on a grand piano soulfully delivering a heartfelt dirge. 'All You Want' tilts inwards towards a more traditional Irish folk sound, the tempo is pulled back, but the power is nonetheless retained deftly by Langford.

Emma Langford - 'Closed Book'

The sign of any great album is that it can temper unbridled joyous exuberance with moments of measured melancholy, the most powerful reaction a listener can have when executed to a high standard, such is the case with the beautiful delivery on 'Bear This Child'. Lines such as; "I never chose to bear this child, it just sort of wouldn't go away, and oh but I thought "well, wouldn't it be nice?" ‘til it was here one day" and "I never chose to keep your life but you wouldn't let me be, cries in the night as I'm drifting off, you've used up all of me and now I can't break free..." may feel cutting, but are unspoken and only thought, forbidden even.

Following the equally emotive "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" Langford ratchets up the dynamism we experienced at the beginning of the album on "6 Foot 4", a satirical dart at a lofty character who has notions of grandeur which are adorned by the unquestioning loyal company he surrounds himself with, our protagonist fantasises about a hard and heavy fall from grace. On "The Seduction of Eve" we find Langford in full-on classical folk territory, her lyrical ability on full show for all to see, and it's highly impressive. Thematically telling the story of shattered futures, broken trust and the over-powering emotional disappointment and trauma that follows. The lyrics are poetic and very visual; "And I surrendered all too quickly to a man of many names, who had plotted excavations where my thoughts were, and I wondered now and then if things would ever be the same, or if anything remained beyond the water"

The benevolent caress of yet another gorgeous track in the form of "The Belle and the Ruin" leads us to Quiet Giant's final piece of wonder in "Tug O' War". The closing song confirms Langford as a song-writer of exceptional talent, I was 100% convinced this was an old soul classic I had heard before, but no, this is straight from her own hand and mind. It's a moving and thoroughly enjoyable piece of gospel soul, and once it ends there is nothing left to do but sit back and say "Wow". To cross-over so many genres with such ease, from jazz to soul to folk, tie them all together as if they were the one, and write such competent poetry into them is a joy to experience as a music fan. The stories Langford shared with us on Quiet Giant leave you wanting more and that is what will lead to great anticipation of her future releases, and critical acclaim for this one.

'Quiet Giant' will be officially launched on the 2nd of December at the iconic Dolan's Warehouse in Langford's home city, tickets are available here, and are priced at €12.00

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