My first experience of Emma Swift’s musical ability came when I saw her sing one song with Mustered Courage. I’d heard of her, and knew she was recording some songs, but had never seen her perform. Anyone who has seen a lot of gigs – even heard a lot of albums – knows how rare those moments are when an artist has one’s full attention. When everything else seems to disappear except that person, their voice and the notes they’re singing. So it was with Swift. She captivated the audience, and she did it as soon as that first note sounded.
It turns out that wasn’t a unique occasion, because from her first note on this six-song EP it’s impossible to not be transfixed. Swift’s languid, slightly husky, often melancholic voice calls to the listener – and it’s not a request, really, although it’s hard to imagine anyone minding.
Swift has been spending time in Nashville and sounds of the American South are laced through these songs of yearning – and of courting, that term that isn’t used very often but should be – in which Swift’s lyrics suggest she might be at the mercy of someone else’s actions and emotions, except her delivery of those lyrics tell us that she is never anything but in charge. The slow pace of these songs suggests confidence – she knows we won’t run away if she doesn’t everything immediately – and confidence is always seductive for an audience: we can relax, we don’t have to do anything but listen. Swift is worth listening to, both in live and recorded form, and many times over.
Emma Swift is out now through Laughing Outlaw Records.