With her second album, Victorian America, American songstress, Emily Jane White proves, that less is always so much more when it comes to meaningful lyrics accompanied by minimalistic soulful compositions. She explores the blissful yet heartbreaking, the beautiful yet gloomy, and all this through a near perfect combination of powerful, yet vulnerable instrumentation and vocals. Listening to this album, filled with opposites, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You’ll probably do both.
Album opener “Never Dead” contains simple country-like acoustic guitar, some pedal steel, vocals and soft percussion. It’s a suitably melancholic tribute to a loved one who committed suicide.
“Victorian America” is most definitely the most memorable track on the album. The soulful raw cellos are reminiscent of Victorian classical music and her vocals sweep you away on a magic carpet ride with their ethereal honest quality. After listening to this song, there should be no doubt in your mind: Emily can sing.
Dark piano driven ballad, “Frozen”, is another lyrical highlight in which Emily gloomily chants “Walk out into the room, there are ghosts dancing with you, no worry they know the tune, bright night, no moon”. Just listen to it. It’s dark, yet poetic, and makes you want to dance with ghosts too, doesn’t it?
In contrast, “The Country Life” is a poetic portrait of her upbringing, while “Liza” starts the gradual shift from a very minimal to a more rounded feel with the inclusion of some electric guitars and a more solid drum sound. This move reveals unlikely influences too. On “Red Serpent” Emily sounds like Sinead O’Connor while “Red Dress” starts with a dark guitar melody reminiscent of the famous “Sweet Dreams” intro by the Eurhythmics.
If you’re ready to bare your soul and tune into a potentially life-changing dark musical journey, this album is a must listen. But if you’re somehow left untouched by her unease, then you’re probably better off listening to Britney.
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