The tweeness of Hackney princess, Emmy The Great, has been swept aside for a new sound. Her pretty, minimal vocals are still here, but the rich, warming and comfortable backing of the songs from last album ‘Virtue’ have been binned. Instead, we have synths, space guitar and, rather oddly, some kind of ’90s rave revival.
It’s a slightly strange set-up in the sold-out Oslo. The venue is a little small for Emmy who, while she’s never hit The Big Time, has a dedicated following. There are couples dancing and singing her older numbers, especially the truly lovely ‘Paper Forest’. But the older songs eclipse her new material tonight – perhaps not the result the singer was looking for.
‘Swimming Pool’, taken from her new EP ‘S’, ends the main part of the show after just 40 minutes of music. It’s serene, but a bit slow and droning, resulting in a slightly lacklustre response from the crowd.
It’s definitely one of the best new songs we hear tonight, though – dreamy and lo-fi. Others bash together conflicting sounds that try to be clever, but just don’t work. ‘Solar Panels’ begins with a layered cyber screech before beats and ravey synths crash in. It’s all a bit 2 Unlimited, and rather unpleasant to these ears. The lyrics are more La Roux-like than Emmy’s usual observant loveliness, and her voice is lost in a melody that's too high and too shadowed by these alien noises.
‘Social Halo’ is much more pleasing on the whole, except for its irritating guitar (a little Sting-like, sorry!). It’s an uplifting song with joyous moments, and Emmy sounds great, but it ends without having much of an impact.
The night ends with audience requests, which turns into a lovely, intimate, personal (or crushingly embarrassing and awkward) encore, depending on your love for Emmy! The wonderful ‘Trellick Tower’ begins softly, beautifully, before the keyboardist forgets the chords. It’s finished on the third attempt, to rapturous applause. Unprofessional? Perhaps, but absolutely endearing.
‘We Almost Had A Baby’ closes. It goes without a hitch. There is singing and happiness, and Emmy breathes a sigh of relief.
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Words: Gemma Hampson
Photo: Alex Lake