Emma Davey is a singer songwriter and vocal coach from Wellington. This year she has had the pleasure of performing at WOMAD and WOW with Wellington’s Balkanistas. She is currently recording her debut album of original songs. Emma says, “Wow when I reviewed my current listening list it was very obvious how female-centric it is. Sorry fellas but a lot of my listening is for work and not musical indulgence (sigh). Over the next month I’ll be throwing all these influences into the pot whilst working on my debut album. We’ve got the basic tracks down already. If you want to find out more about progress on my album please like my facebook page or checkout the pledgeme campaign video where you can hear some snippets of demos. You may even wish to make a pledge to help fund completion of the album and receive rewards in exchange.”
Here are five albums she’s loving right now…
1 – Over the Rhine, The Trumpet Child: This is an album I return to time and time again. I was introduced to this band by a singing student of mine (one of the great things about being a vocal coach is that students bring in new artists all the time. Usually that has a happy ending). The music on The Trumpet Child is jazzy-country-folky-bluesy. Just to clarify it’s not hard rock or anything remotely like that. Does that explain it? What I love about it can be summed up in a few phrases it sounds like real musicians, playing real instruments, in a real room. It’s earthy and acoustic with great melodies and lyrics. I love the soulful vocal timbre of singer Karin Bergquist. I have a couple of their albums but this is the one I come back to. I would probably sell my mother to buy a ticket to see them live if they came to NZ (sorry mum). Favourite Song? I don’t have a favourite song, they are all so singable but you could google I’m on a Roll or Trouble to get the flavour.
2 – Ane Brun, Songs 2003-2013: Last March I was lucky enough to perform at WOMAD with the Balkanistas (NZ gypsy Balkan band). I say lucky but of course I mean a very talented group of musicians worked their butts off to get there. My first time at a WOMAD (omg why have I never been before, it’s awesome) I’d obsessively planned my long weekend to watch as much as possible. There was a gap in the program where I could have chosen to listen to any number of artists and just happened to choose to listen to Scandinavian artist Ane Brun. Sparse, ethereal and often haunting songs and quite quirky too. Lots of acoustic flavour and swirling reverb. Hints of Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos and Dolly Parton, crazy as that sounds. I subsequently went along to her “artists in conversation” hosted by Nick Bollinger where she talked about her songwriting and influences. Favourite song: The Puzzle. Beautiful use of cello, violins and reverb drenched backing vocals. Great metaphor.
3 – Dusty Springfield, Dusty In Memphis: The writing credits on this album read like a who’s who of songwriters of the time. This album is smooth from top to toe and although it didn’t do well on the charts at the time it’s become a classic through the shear quality of the songs and Dusty’s magically soulful vocals. It’s like your girlfriend has come round to cry out her troubles to you over coffee (or something stronger). For me it’s a lesson in how to deliver a story (which is what most great songs are) with 100% commitment to the emotion. Recorded with Aretha Franklin’s Memphis based backing band (OMG!!!!) but interestingly vocals ended up being tracked in New York! Favourite song: Son of a Preacher Man followed closely by Breakfast in Bed for the incredible sultry vocal. Also on the re-release, I Wanna Make It With You. A very lush and rich, vocal and harmony treat for my ears.
4 – Julie Lamb, When We Hang Out: This one is fresh off the press. I love this because it has great harmonies that are fun to sing and the songs are cleverly crafted. I’ll confess – I’m in the band singing backing vocals. It’s a big band full of characters and they’re always having fun and they are tight. I’ve sung on both her previous albums and have seen the evolution of a unique Julie Lamb Band sound. You can hear this in the confidence and swagger of Drive Me (and Time Flies from the last album). Favourite song: Clouds Cried Red. I love love love the lyrics. It’s such a beautiful poem/lyric. I have a soft spot for the fun country cover of Wellington singer songwriter Mahinirangi Maika’s song, I’ll Never Do it Again.
5 – Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Raising Sand: The first time I heard of Alison Krauss was on (National Radio’s) Matinee Idol. They played an entire concert of her and her band Union Station. I have never heard banjos sound good before and was hooked from there on in. It turns out I was already familiar with her work having seen her sing on the Grammies (the song from the movie Cold Mountain) and heard her on the movie soundtrack O Brother Where Art Thou (Down To The River To Pray) always that beautiful haunting voice wows me. So I was pretty keen to hear Raising Sand, her collaboration with Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin fame (as if you don’t already know that!)). I was driving down a back country road out of Martinborough when I first played this album. It must have sunk in deep as five years later we drove down that same road to a cottage we had rented to rehearse for the album and by the time we hit sealed roads on the return home we had actually rearranged three songs to have brushes and an acoustic treatment. I love the sound of this album. It’s part gritty and earthy, part lush and smooth. The arrangements are simple and uncluttered. The instruments are all given their own space in the mix. Pretty classy and so unusual for me to hear Robert Plants vocals so toned down. I’m used to hearing him rocking it out Zeppelin style (I sing Kashmir in the Balkanistas and have performed Black Dog, Whole Lotta Love and Immigrant Song enough times over the years to have them permanently etched in my mind). As it says on the album liner notes “gratitude to T Bone (Burnett) and the Blue Glow who steered an old dog to new ticks.” Amen to that. Favourite Song: Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us. I would like to hear her up a notch in the mix but on this one she got the limelight.