When fellow Fatea writer, Tony Birch, wrote "Some singers grow on you over time and others stop you in your tracks. Emily Mae Winters falls into the second category" about Emily Mae Winter's debut ep "Foreign Waters" he could scarcely have foreseen how much those words would resonate.
The title track of that debut EP was short listed for Fatea Song Of The Year, She won the Guardian Songwriting Contest, was a finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest and subsequently picked up an EFDSS scholarship to attend and perform at Folk Alliance International in Kansas February gone, alongside the likes of Luke Jackson and Sam Kelly.
I was lucky enough to catch her performance in the Club Tent at Cambridge Folk Festival so know that she is more than capable of turning it on in the live arena so when her debut album, "Siren Serenade" dropped into the Fatea Office I felt the need to reduce the chance of a vicious fight amongst the reviewers by claiming this one for myself and boy what a fortuitous choice that was.
The biggest surprise was that having written all the tracks on her debut EP, Emily decided to include a number of traditional songs on the album, in doing so she shows that she is a mistress of interpretation as well as the pen as she makes songs like "Fiddler's Green" and "Down By The Salley Gardens" her own. I don't think it's a coincidence that the latter song is based on a poem by W.B. Yeats as there is a real sense of poetry in her own writing.
Emily Mae Winters is in possession of a really powerful voice and one that can hit power whilst still holding the tune and clearly annunciate every word, across a number of related styles, Though folk is the predominant sound, there are undercurrents of Americana and to a lesser extent pop, but the overwhelming take home is the quality of that voice.
Instrumentation and production do song and voice justice with appearances from the likes of Hannah Sanders, Ben Savage, Lukas Drinkwater and Ben Walker, with the latter making appearances behind the desk along with Lauren Deakin-Davies. It gives the album a sound that has been well crafted but also gives the songs and singer the space to be themselves, almost filigree like in their construction, glittering, but still able to breathe.
On first hearing the album, I tweeted "Siren Serenade" will be wrecking ships for decades, the enchantment too hard to resist and now repeated plays later that remains very much the case, this is not an album to fall in love with only to discover that it's a flash in the pan, nope this is a recording that is there for the long haul.
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