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Emily Mae WintersEmily Mae Winters
Album: Foreign Waters
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 4

Some singers grow on you over time and others stop you in your tracks. Emily Mae Winters falls in to the second category. I first saw her play last December and immediately decided she was a performer I wanted to see again. I got my chance recently with the release party for her d├ębut EP "Foreign Waters" at the Winemaker's Club, tucked away under the arches of Holborn viaduct. It was a party, as well, with enough family and friends to ensure a lively atmosphere.

Emily played the whole night without a traditional support, but brought a mix of musicians on to the stage throughout the evening so we actually had three or four sets, each of which was different, and the time flew past far too fast. It is a feature of musicians now that they are no longer bounded by musical genres and Emily is very comfortable writing and singing songs influenced by Folk, Celtic, Country and Americana and her love of poetry.

The four songs self-written on the EP reflect this mixing of styles but there does appear to be a central theme of a journey, connected by the nautical titles, which perhaps represents where Emily is at the moment. She has been singing in country bands but seems to be heading more towards folk both new and traditional. At the launch we were treated to a version of "Sally Gardens" as good as any I've ever heard.

The opening track "Anchor" is about somebody searching for something, but not quite sure what it, to give a sense of direction. This track immediately introduces us to Emily's very powerful vocals, accompanied by just the lightest musical backing. She has a voice that reminds me of Hannah Martin, with rich tones and the ability to both soar and swoop at the same time.

The second track, Miles To Go, continues this theme of a journey still to be made and has a more country feel to it, aided by Ben Walker on slide guitar.

Both of these tracks are already award winners in their own right; 'Anchor' winning the folk category in the Guardian Song Writing Competition and 'Miles To Go' winning the UK Song Writing Contest Folk Category.

The title track, Foreign Waters, again has the feel of more to come, this time having to push the comfort zone and maybe make sacrifices to achieve an aim. It isn't a love song, but perhaps a song about love that will need to be foregone.

Last, but by no means least, is the beautiful 'Until the Light', my personal favourite. This song again is different, possibly drawing on Emily's training in music and theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama as it could be the central ballad in a musical. Emily accompanies herself on piano with only a touch of cello to support really dramatic, powerful singing. Here we finally see the deep breath taken and a determination to go forward to whatever the future may bring.

The production values on the EP are superb, as would be expected when Ben Walker was in charge of the recording and the photography was placed in the talented hands of Ellie Lucas.

This is a delicious taster of Emily's music but we also heard a number of new songs at the launch and it has to be hoped that there will be a much larger helping to come in the very near future.

Tony Birch