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Download of the Week: Emily Wells

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Emily is an anomaly among musicians, most of who spend their careers striving for a major label deal. Before she was old enough to vote, a major label was courting Emily, two music publishing companies were competing for the rights to her songs and she was recording with award winning producers. By the time she was legally buying her first drink, however, Emily had decided to choose a different path, and with true indie ethos, packed up and moved from New York, leaving in her wake a lucrative deal from a major label, the renowned producers, recording studios, and a manager. During that period of her life, Emily had been offered everything that most musicians want. Everything except what she, as an artist, needed most: creative control.

Wells, recognized as a child prodigy, is a multi-instrumentalist with a mellifluous, soulful voice, compared by some to Billie Holiday, who consistently creates gorgeous lush sonic landscapes imbued with intelligent and emotive lyrics. Currently living in Los Angeles, Emily, a definitive indie darling with a do-it-yourself attitude, wrote, produced, recorded and mixed Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks in her own recording studio. On this record, Emily successfully combines her myriad talents to create what is being hailed as her best work to date. The addition of an upright bass player and a drummer compliment the rich musical arrangements that include Emily on guitar, violin, piano, Hammond organ, banjo, xylophones, and glockenspiel.

The 14 dynamic tracks on Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks give a glimpse of the world through the eyes of someone in love, enraged by war, and filled with questions about choices, religion, and life. On the first track, “Mt. Washington”, two lovers decide to take leave of their self-imposed prison cells and in spite of the terror they feel by releasing themselves into the world, they wonder at the beauty of their life together forgetting about “the mortgage and the end of time”, they “blend together like bleeding lips and trust that death will be our dying wish”. The heartbreakingly sentimental lyrics of “50 Year Love Affair” take the listener on a poetic journey of two life-long lovers; while “Big Love Lullaby” sweetly describes the all consuming feelings a parent has for her child whose world keeps getting bigger with each passing day. Understanding the dangers of religion and questioning the Christian doctrine espoused throughout childhood by a family of preachers leads to an attempt to reconcile God with reality on “Oh My God I Miss You”. Emily sings angelically, “What do you do when you’ve whittled him down, to nothing but a stone in the barren ground?” “to nothing but a memory from your hometown? I go wild, with possibility; I go wild, with my fragility.”

The creation of Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks signals an arrival for Emily Wells. She confidently expresses herself and exposes her talents in ways that would not have been possible had she chosen to stay in New York. With this record, Emily makes the most of her strengths as an impassioned songwriter and radiant singer. Her production is warm, rich and textured while still allowing for the loveliness of space in each song. The record is a cohesive collection of dreamscapes seeped in metaphor and savagely beautiful anti-war songs. The final track, “Dr. Hubris and His Vile of Turpentine” inspired by the reclusive Thomas Pynchon, is a self-reflective, banjo laden dithyramb on which Emily confides, “You had it all along; someday you still don’t know you’ve got it”. Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks proves that Emily Wells has had it all along.


Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks - Emily Wells

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