Thursday 30 November 2023

There's Nothing Wrong With An Ordinary Life

Another shout out for Emily Breeze. As tomorrow is the last Bandcamp Friday of 2023, this is a further plug for an album that has been a highlight in a year of frankly great music.

Rapture, Emily's third album, was released on 10th February and in a post on 6th March, I wrote that Rapture was "a great album and deserving of a more detailed post in it's own right later on". I didn't intend "later" to be nine months but here we are...

If you search for info about Emily online, you'll inevitably pick up on the Bristol connection and comparisons to the likes of Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, UK soap Hollyoaks (!), Johnny Cash, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker... you get the gist. I stand by my comment in July 2022 that "none of those really do justice to Emily, her incisive and reflective lyrics or the band themselves". 

There may be nothing new about an artist or band who write songs that examine the minutae and mundanity of everyday life, that musically mine the depths of the blues, country, rock and punk, that gathers a set of people that alchemically create something different and special in the studio and on stage. And yet, and yet...

Rapture opens with the single Ordinary Life, released in September 2022 and which I enthused about the following month. It's a powerhouse of a song, drawing parallels with Emily's own experience as a striving artist entering their fourth decade, reflecting on and reclaiming their definition of "success". Here's a live performance of Ordinary World from Emily and band's gig at Newport's Le Pub in February 2023.
Emily writes all ten songs on the album, collaborating with Rob Norbury (lead/rhythm guitar) on half of them. Confessions Of An Ageing Party Girl is one of the co-writes, originally released as a single in 2020 and re-released this year to great acclaim (and radio play) with a shiny new remix by Daddy G (Massive Attack) vs Robot Club (Stew Jackson). It's another song chock full of musical hooks and narrative treasures. It sounds pretty fantastic on stage too, as this performance at The Phoenix in Exeter (also February this year) amply demonstrates. 
As someone who was born in Bristol and spent my callow youth in the heart of the city, I love that Emily's songs are peppered with local references, not least The Bell pub in Stokes Croft, which lends it's name to the second song on Rapture and where I spent many memorable (and not so memorable) times back in the day. 
Ordinary World is a tough act to follow, but The Bell proves very early on that it's more than up to it as a song in it's own right and an indication that this album will be something very special indeed. Here's an earlier version of the song, road tested live at The Cavern, located in the basement under The Crown pub in the city centre (another venue with great personal resonance), circa November 2021.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of rapture is "to feel or express extreme pleasure or enthusiasm for someone or something". If forty minutes in the company of Emily Breeze and band playing the album doesn't provoke a similar reaction then call 999 as you may be in need of urgent medical attention.

Rapture is available on vinyl, CD and digital formats via the brilliant (and Bristol-based, natch) Sugar Shack Records. I cannot recommend Rapture highly enough. You need this album in your life.

Oh, and whilst you're there, pop over to Emily's own Bandcamp site and pick up her previous releases. You can also find my Dubhed selection from June 2023 here.
If you are lucky enough to have tickets for Sleaford Mods' gig tonight at the O2 Academy in Bristol, get there early as Emily Breeze is on stage at 7.20pm.

If not, then Emily and band are touring again in February and March 2024, taking in London, Bristol, Nottingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Brighton, Bedford and Cambridge. It promises to be fabulous.

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