Underway by Emma’s Imagination (EP)
Can Emma’s Imagination avoid the dreaded ‘sophomore slump’ on ‘Underway’, the follow-up to her chart-busting 2011 debut album ‘Stand Still’?
ophomore slump is the name given to the malaise that seeps into the mind of a second- year university student… and to the failure of an artist to follow-up an excellent debut release with a record of similar quality. The Strokes are just one of countless notable acts to receive a muted response to their second record. Emma’s Imagination, the alias of Emma Gillespie, found success with a debut album that went to No 14 in the UK chart and produced two Top 10 singles. The question is will her follow-up EP, Underway, scale the same heights?
Opener Let You Go has hints of Songwriting favourite Nina Nesbitt in its delicate indie-folk. Gillespie’s voice also bears similarity to Nesbitt’s: it’s confident and certain, yet tender andd revealing. Pour It Out has elements of both the outstanding Sharon Van Ettan and the legendary PJ Harvey, taking the seedy darkness of PJ Harvey’s Down By The Water and making it acoustic. This acoustic darkness is continued in both the excellent (and brave) cover of alt-metallers Deftones’ classic Change, and the moody All About You. Bells starts off like Bright Eyes’ Don’t Know When But A Day Is Gonna Come, before coming across all Stealing Sheep. Arms Of Old closes Underway with a folk-noir tone.
Throughout Underway, Emma’s Imagination displays a skill for subtle, affecting indie-folk influenced by the genre’s greats of both today and yesterday. She is neither in debt to her influences nor over-awed by the prospect of making their inspiration her own, and it’s this that allows her to further develop her songwriting skill.
Though it’s too early to suggest that Underway will be regarded as the finest release by Emma’s Imagination – Weezer’s Pinkerton, for instance, required the passage of time and breathing space of further releases to cement its place as the band’s finest record – there’s certainly no slump to be found. Whether Underway will make its way into the charts is subject to the whims of record-buying chic. What’s certain, though, is that Emma’s development as a songwriter has seen her produce a fine second record.
Verdict: A sophomore offering with no slump in sight