The release notes accompanying Blood / Lines tell me that it’s a selected compilation of over 100 sketches written by Emily Jane White between January 2011 and October 2012. The use of the word ‘sketches’ intrigued me; I wondered why not just say ‘demos’ but having now actually listened to the record, all becomes clear. The music is indeed much better described by visual metaphors and is a very impressionistic collection, full of atmosphere.
From the start, Emily Jane White’s guitar and confident, crystalline vocals are very much at the centre of things; on My Beloved fragments of rolling percussion, strings and piano wrap around her voice in a tale of a love that simultaneously completes and separates the two protagonists. Faster Than The Devil is full of ghostly multitracked melodies and heavily reverbed guitar floating on distant piano; while the pulsing heartbeat of Keeley is to be found in its soaring strings and steady bassline as much as in its grieving over a lost relationship.
Thoroughbred is a galloping swirl of reverbed guitar and bells, the soundtrack to a gothic cowboy movie, while Wake is a winter’s tale accompanied by arpeggiated piano and booming bass which drops into an unexpectedly spacious middle eight before returning in a flurry of strings and drums.
The loping rhythm and major chords of Dandelion Daze are an effective juxtaposition to a lyric of hate and lost guns which could make your blood run cold, while the insistent drums and piano of Holiday Song mesh with Emily Jane’s swooping vocals through a number of key changes. Murmuring guitar and piano drive The Roses on to a gathering climax of strings and intricate harmonies before returning to the opening motif for the coda. Closing track The Wolves goes through some complex musical changes against a doomy lyric which invokes the rapture and the end of days.
But these descriptions don’t do justice to a record which conveys such strong mental images. Blood / Lines contains a hidden world of half-remembered dreams and half-forgotten nightmares, of abandoned houses and silent streetlit roads; empty, dusty rooms and fragments of torn antique lace. The scenes on Blood / Lines are worlds between worlds and the spaces between words, ghost ships passing in the night. This is the music of yesterday and tomorrow, seen through the gauzy curtain of today.
Review by: Helen Gregory
Blood/Lines is released on 4 Nov 2013 via Talitres