Emily SmithEmily Smith
Album: Echoes
Label: White Fall
Tracks: 10

As well as Emily Smith, "Echoes" comes with quite an impressive guestlist: Jerry Douglas, Aoife O'Donovan, Kris Drever, Tim Edey, Natalie Haas and Rory Butler, a guest list that should tell you that Emliy Smith is looking to break out of her comfort zone on her new album and reach out to a wider range of sounds and hopefully also to a wider audience.

As with the musicians she has made an impressive selection on not only the songs, but the way she has chosen to interpret them. There are a number of familiar names amongst the track listing, "King Orfeo" and "Twa Sisters", but Ms Smith manages to wave her own special brand of pixie dust over them to give them a very personal touch.

There is a fragility in the album that is married in Emily's interpretation of "My Darling Boy" and one that also shows her strengths as a performer. It's a song which directs you towards the dead father, but the real strength is in the wife and mother of the dead boy's son, one that talks of the fragility of life, but makes you realise that life continues and still needs to be lived and Smith's performance really does capture both aspects.

This is not the album of someone that is going to wallow in melancholy, Emily Smith is simply too sharp for that, she recognises the beauty in dark folk songs, but doesn't let it become a dominant force as songs of death and murder sit aside more positive songs that reflect both sides of human nature.

"Echoes" is an album that harks back, but it's as much because it is reflecting the crystal clarity and spirit of the singer and the musicians she has gathered around. Emily Smith has an album that she can take a lot of pride in, one that gives the familiar a twist.

Neil King