Live Review: Emma Louise

Originally published through Tone Deaf

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There’s a magical quality to Emma Louise.

From the moment her extraordinary voice washed over the Corner Hotel, the audience responded with complete silence. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the changes between songs.

Of course, they were well into the kind of folksy, contemplative mood that suits Ms. Louise best by the time she arrived on the stage.

First act Patrick James and his accompanying mandolin/portable xylophone playing friend “Scotty,” opened with a wave of soothing acoustic guitar and lush vocals.

The nervous, boyish charm of their stage banter was endearing, and their songs had a quiet sensitivity to them that undoubtedly won them some new fans.

Gorgeous chanteuse Thelma Plum was a delicious mixture of sweetness and poison. The “dickheads” she’s been dating seem to be excellent fodder for her saccharine and sad, mildly haunting songwriting at least. Her tracks conjure up images of dramatic romances and sepia-toned adventures, delivered in sugary vocal tones.

Plum’s sparse cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Games’ was especially stunning, along with her dreamy-peppy new single ‘Dollar,’ and the breathtaking ‘Apple.’

Emma Louise’s natural stage presence is as captivating as her vocal chords. A dead ringer for Tinkerbelle, the pixie-small singer writhed in slow motion; rolling her head with her eyes closed.

There’s an allure to her that her press shots don’t capture – a little cheeky, with a hint of shyness, and an ingenious style. She was dressed as the one person from the eighties who didn’t look ridiculous, in a neon yellow jacket, punk high-waisted red and black trousers, and a sheer black top. At first glance, she’s tiny, delicate, and enchanting.

It’s not all softness though. The secret to Emma Louise’s success is her unashamed vulnerability – which, by being so open about, she has turned into a source of strength. She epitomises the seemingly impossible dichotomy we all struggle with; authority and weakness, control and confusion. She’s emotional but powerful.

The effect of her song writing is immediate. You feel like you know her, and you want to meet these charismatic stoners that have gotten Emma so mixed up. Newer songs like ‘Freedom’ and ‘Atlas Eyes’ sit easily beside the well-loved tracks of her first EP; the achingly beautiful ‘1000 Sundowns,’ the Triple J hit ‘Jungle.’ Another highlight was her hazy cover of Alt-J’s ‘Tessellate’.

It’s almost annoying that she’s barely entered her twenties – where did all that maturity come from? But it’s impossible to stay annoyed at Emma, and when her first attempts at songwriting and performing are this good, it’s hard to imagine what’s going to come next.

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