It's Not Hard To Decide (Lyric Video) by Emily Jane Powers from EJP on Vimeo.
|photo by rachel winslow|
Awake in the dead of night, you might have four thoughts go through your head in under a minute - it's fitting, then, that Emily Jane Powers latest album, Restless, expresses itself with at least as many, or more different genres/sounds/styles/moods as there are songs on the album. And I do mean album - this DIY guitarist/singer/songwriter and former Michigander has been making 'bedroom pop ballads' for years, with numerous releases between 2009 and 2014 - Restless was released last month on 180 gram vinyl. You can also download the album, here. In the meantime, you can see and hear Powers when she comes back to her former home state with a visit to Trixie's Bar in Hamtramck. INFO.
Powers sings of cyclic hearts and sullen days and mourning lights, but there's nothing overly tender or emotive about her poetic lyrical renderings. In the same way that unapologetic autumn mornings deliver early frosts, she comes at subjects with a kind of objectivity that manifests a beauty--even if it's a heartbreaking beauty--processing all those restless thoughts about marriage, womanhood, motherhood, society, materialism, general dread, nuanced self-doubt, sentimentality, emotional distance, strength--and the possibility of renewing said strength... In her oracle-like way of putting these contemplations into poetry that feels both raw and resplendent, I'd put her in a class with other artists I've written often about in the past such as Audra Kubat and Fred Thomas.
And then there is the musical arrangements. Restless was three year's in the making and was recorded by Erik Hall (In Tall Buildings), featuring performances from Jenn Romero (The Jellies), Chris Smith (Luno), Alec Jensen and Eric Brummitt (Dream Version). "It's Not Hard To Decide" sets a minimal groove with woodblocks and a splindly acoustic guitar, while "Blood" adds guitars and bursts with a gliding chord progression and an irresistible hook during the chorus that leads into a cathartic riff. "Who Pays" brings it right back down, a hypnotic wavy groove facilitates an expressive guitar phrase as Powers' vocals is able to put so much emotion into an economical amount of words. That's just the first three songs, alone...
The variety and explorative nature of the compositions consists throughout. And her voice will continue to give you poignant pause, reaching falsettos on "Talk and Beg" and exorcising something tangible in a grittier mid-range on the title track. It's comforting and haunting, all at once, that I've heard similar questions and ponderings in my own head - given melody and music and profundity, with the music and instrumentation on this record.
Emily Jane Powers
w/ VNESSWOLFCHILD & Eliza Godfrey