Friday, 1 April 2016

Emma Swindells - Emma Swindells (EP) Review

Emma Swindells - Emma Swindells (EP) Review


Released Date: 25 March 2016
Label: Emma Swindells (Self Release)
5 Tracks/ Time: 17:10
EP Art: Anthony D’Angio (aka Flex The Frog) Website

Track listing:
1. Itch 2. Flatline 3. Dancing on My Own 4. Shadow 5.Thicker Skin

Available for Digital purchase:
Amazon UK - UK iTunes - | Stream for FREE on SPOTIFY
Physical Product: Comes in a fold out cardboard wallet will be sold at all her gigs.
Link to Spotify UK iTunes Link Amazon UK Link Link to Emma Swindells Homepage Image Map

** Please use the graphic above to purchase the EP **

Emma’s Official EP Launch
It takes place on Friday April 1, 2016 at The Grain Store (2-3 King Street, Wolverhampton, West Midlands WV1 1SX). The Grain Store is located in the heart of Wolverhampton city centre, offering a warm & welcoming atmosphere as well as great food, drink, events and more.
8PM Tickets are £5 on the door. Darcy and Acoustic Journey will be supporting her.
The party headline gig will be a celebration with friends, family and her fans she has met along the way.

Chart Success
Emma is looking for a maximum sales impact to coincide with the EP Launch over the weekend April 2-3, 2016 in order her to help her climb the UK Country iTunes chart.
After an initial debut on April 1st at #10 it quickly climbed to #5 (#162 UK iTunes all genres) with Shania Twain’s 1997 album COME ON OVER in its sights (#4 UK iTunes; #132 UK ITunes all genres) 30 places ahead.

Wolverhampton’s Emma Swindells, UK country artiste and hugely enthusiastic country fan, has been making steady progress since her surprise inclusion at the (C2C) Country To Country Festival back on March 2015.
Later in the year she notably found herself nominated along with other young acts Katy Hurt and Toria Lynn, Belfast based The Rising and Outlander (eventual winners) at the 2015 British Country Music Awards (BCMAwards) in the Horizon Act of the Year.

Emma Swindells with Ash Cooper at C2C2015
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson

Emma’s aim since C2C 2015 was to strive to put a band together thus creating a bigger sound for her live shows and regarding this she has succeeded.
This new EP has been a long work in progress having played the tracks live over a long period with a target to get them recorded.
Paul Matthews the bass player from Midlands outfit Dexeter has recorded, produced and engineered it. This came about after Emma met him whilst attending a Ward Thomas gig in early 2015 and mentioned her hunger to get into the studio.
Professional Bassist, (Double bass & electric) Paul also teaches others how to play the bass, ukulele and guitar and is known as the full time hat wearer!
Emma's band play on the EP thus replicating their live sound so they can readily re-produce the sound in a live format. Emma (banjo, guitar, lead vocals) is joined by her young sister singing harmony lines, twin sister Laura Swindells plays drums along with Richard Hockney (Bass) and Joe McKim (Mandolin/ Guitar).

Emma was keen to have some fiddle parts on the EP and reached out to Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove native electric fiddle player Pete Hartley who plays on this set. He sent over 5 lines/ track for consideration. "He was so talented and he certainly added an extra dimension to the tracks" shared Emma.
According to his website  Mr. Hartley is one of the most experienced and in-demand event musicians in the country – a virtuoso violinist, mandolinist, bandleader and composer who has toured all over Europe, pioneered the use of the 6-string Violectra electric violin (now also endorsed by the likes of Escala and Nigel Kennedy) and played functions for the likes of Bill Clinton, Bertie Ahern, Princess Anne and, in a personal career highlight, Joanna Lumley!

All the songs on the self-titled EP are written or co-written by Emma and at the Songwriter nights she delights at the opportunity to relate the stories behind the songs. She has been building her West Midlands profile as the resident artist at several Wolverhampton Country Nights events which take place at Bantock House, Finchfield Road, Wolverhampton.

Swindells started recording for the 5 track project back in August 2015. Lots of rehearsals and practice runs were undertaken in the studio, trying things ideas with guitar, banjo parts and adding more instruments - "It was a bit of a trial and error situation, I liked that and I liked that I had a quite a big say in how the sound was as I didn't want a sound that didn't sound like our live set" she told WCR FM 101.8 (Community Radio Station serving Wolverhampton)

The EP kick offs with the mid-tempo “Itch” which has a folky/ bluegrass vibe to it. The male character sounds like an old high school flame and an additive bad habit that cannot be easily shaken off! - I'd need some medication what's the cure? is the hopeful plea. 10 years later along comes a Facebook friend request to hook up again. Unfortunately, she can’t resist, can’t shut the door, cracks and regretfully sends a message - I'm going to start to be mindful from the start, Damn irritating, you’re an itch on my heart she sings in the chorus

Flatline” has become something of a signature tune for Emma which has picked up some airplay on local BBC and community stations. Although previously released as a single here it is given a fresh treatment re-working the track with additional guitar and drums for enhanced lively appeal. This is a well-crafted tune about living life to the full, with no regrets. It’s very believable and the Wolverhampton songstress paints a delightful picture of not looking for the safe option! There’s no lookin’ back, she’s shifting up the gears, taking her chances and would rather experience the rocky up and downs than a boring “flat line” lifestyle - It's not about the years in our life’s But the life within' the years
With its none safety-first doctrine the number is perfectly summed up with her thought provoking verse:
You never know what’s round the bend
There are things we all need to mend
And never get the chance
We may lose the one's that we love
And ...we never say enough, so I'm gonna tell you now

The largely sparsely arranged “Dancing On My Own” features some delicate banjo riffs underscored with some deep electric bass lines and soft percussion. The rather witty song depicts an unfortunate girl’s night out at the end of a tiring working week. The female protagonist heads to her favourite bar only be faced with a creepy stranger with laser-like eyes staring her up and down, oh dear! - I told him NO but all he heard was YES, He's putting my patience to the test are lines that many a dignified lady can relate to!
His next target: I'm guessing that girl in the shortest dress, I watch him slur the same old lines and then get slapped for grabbing her backside Emma wittily relates.

"Shadow" is Emma’s favourite track on the EP and it’s easy to see why. This dreamy softly score certainly sounds like the EPs gem. Pete Hartley’s fiddle adds some fine atmospheric vibes to the delicate acoustic track with some tasteful electric guitar chords which allow the song to shine. It’s a song Emma wrote whilst travelling in America having bought a cheap guitar from Walmart and wrote the riffs on a campsite. The song means a lot to Emma paying tribute to the contribution from her younger sister. The song depicts a chance at love which is derailed by an obsessive and jealous girl who never will let go and stakes her claim on a guy whose feelings are clearly not reciprocated. On this sad but classy number, questions are raised if things might have turned out differently if they’d tried harder. That hope of romance is forlornly lost and the love flame flickers and quietly extinguishes, oh what might have been?     
And every time I saw a spark
She blew it out, left me in the dark
And I guess now we'll never know
How can I compete when she was your shadow?

The acoustically driven “Thicker” with its sweetly aching melody is an observationally piece. It appears to depict the presence of a schizophrenic bully, targeting pry for easy pickings where harsh words cut deep like daggers. The pain is felt in the chorus:
I wish I wish I could build a wall
Make a defence so I don't feel so small
You keep, you keep on treading us down
To the king of the castle we all bow down
My armour is wearing thin
And he's thick as skin

Sum Up: Overall the tracks on this album are growers with repeat plays. Similarly, to previous Dexeter recordings there is an element of a low budget flat sound and I would have preferred greater clarity and more control with the vocals. For me Emma’s finest vocal to date came in December 2015 when she lent her soulful voice to a wonderful single titled “Where You Left Me” with her good friends The Ash Cooper Band recorded at Robannas Studios in Birmingham
Emma’s song craft is something to admire as she grows on her journey. The importance of playing live gains greater significance in order to sell product in this modern age and Emma is certainly honing and constantly striving to improve with her live sets. This likeable 24-year old, a former Aberystwyth University student who graduated in 2012, is the current country darling in her hometown and will no doubt be reaching out for new appreciative audiences to broaden her fan base.
Of Note: Have loved the superb promotional photos and EP photoshoot taken by CMA official photographer Anthony D’Angio (aka Flex The Frog; Website)

CONNECT with Emma Swindells:
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