The title of Outro is perhaps misleading – this is not Emilie Kahn moving out of her real persona, quite the opposite. Her younger self was known as Emilie And Ogden, with Ogden being the name of her harp, so far so mind spinningly twee. Yet on her sophomore record, Emilie is turning the mirror inwards. This is a raw and cutting look at the exit from youth and into the emotional quagmire that adulthood brings. For fans of the harp, it is still here, don’t worry but it is Emilie who is the deserved headliner now, no hiding, no lies.
From the opener Swimmer, the listener is in a pure blue ocean, but there are sharks here, ready to take a bite out of the rawest of hearts. “I wrote you a tribute, I wrote you one hundred songs like this one that you will never here” – the sound of yearning, the sound of wanting what is just out of reach. There is a touch of Joanna Newsom here, especially in the dream style sonics, with a sprinkling of Amanda Palmer, the harp the alternative to Palmer’s piano. It’s a beautiful start that points to what is to come.
Island is a little more musically upbeat, but subject wise, it wallows in the same field. Trying to defiantly fight against your emotions but ultimately simply pleading for yesterday.
Will You changes things up a little, veering towards Drive style 80’s atmospherics, Massive Attack intensity and Liz Frasier soaring. Perhaps my favourite track on the album.
Aquarium suggests either looking at the world coldly from behind glass or conversely being trapped in an emotional prison. Gazed at by reality, but unable to reach it or be a part of the beating heart of a society that looks down at you. One of the many moments of the album where you want to place Kahn’s head on your shoulder and tell her it will be okay. If the kids still made mixtapes, this would be a regular, no doubt.
Horse takes Early Leonard Cohen rawness and adds a welcome defiance not felt on much of the record, here Kahn states “I think that’s enough”, before the swaggering kicker “I’m not buying what you’re selling”. Another highlight.
Overall, Kahn’s beautiful drawl is impressive throughout, perhaps a little more variety would have made this an essential listen. But there is plenty to love here as is and it is certainly worth a listen if you want to spend some time with an angelic voice that comes with a devilish edge. And Ogden, of course.
Outro by Emilie Kahn is released February 22nd on Secret City Records and can be Pre-Ordered here.
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