There are obvious and possibly lazy comparisons to be made on a first listen of Emma Tricca’s new record. It would seem she sits roughly astride the bar separating New York coffee house introspection and gently psychy west coast folk. Hints of Joni Mitchell and Linda Perhacs abound. On tracks like Sunday Reverie – an album highlight with a beautiful, simple descending chorus – there are distinct echoes of the more personal side of Bob Dylan’s early output, songs like One Too Many Mornings or Restless Farewell, where the mood is as important as the meaning.
But to pigeonhole Relic as the work of a Dylan/Joni revivalist is to miss Tricca’s subtlety and her range. Hailing from Italy and currently residing in London, she brings a clearly European voice to her songs: the lyrical prettiness of, say, Bridget St. John mixed with the occasional weird touches of someone like Brigitte Fontaine, with whom she also shares notable North African influences.
There is a more polished sound than in her earlier recordings: splashing percussion in November At My Door, the soulful delivery of The Painter with its organ and strings. Distant Screen almost has a sheen of trip-hop about it, all muted horns and jazzy percussion, while the deceptively simple acoustic guitar of Take Me Away and Drunken Conclusions recall the likes of Donovan or the aforementioned Bridget St. John’s Songs For The Gentle Man LP. The whole thing is shot through with eerie, melancholic effects.
But it is Tricca’s singing that consistently shines through. Ranging from an otherworldly warble not unlike contemporary American singer Jessica Pratt to a thoroughly urban London twang, her voice inhabits each song like a piece of antique furniture in a room. Her individual approach gives Relic a unique, bittersweet mood. This is a distinctive and quietly beautiful album.
Review by: Thomas Blake
Out Now on Finders Keepers Records