Emma Hill & her Gentlemen Callers,
Clumsy Seduction
(Kuskokwim, 2009)

On her second album, Clumsy Seduction, singer-songwriter Emma Hill has blended acoustic instrumentation and sweet alto vocalizations with poignant lyrics on to create a folk/blues/country blend that touches the soul.

Her first album, Just Me, was released in 2007 and accompanied by a West Coast tour to promote it. Reminiscent of Joni Mitchell's musical style, the lyrics sound like confessions from the deepest part of the artist's life. It is as though she has opened her private journals, set them to music and shared them with the world. To remove all doubt that this is what she has done, she has written a dedication on the liner notes that reads:

"These songs are for those I have shared a spark with. With some, the flame lasted longer than others did, but all burned just as brightly. Thanks to each of you."

It is hard to believe, after listening to these heartfelt confessions, that Hill is but 22 years of age, but don't think her youth has left her lacking depth or power. The Alaskan-born resident of Portland, Oregon, has obviously been seriously working at her craft to come so far in so short a lifespan. And her fan base has been growing, thanks to exposure via indie and college radio stations and her own touring schedule.

It's no doubt to me that this popularity has been due to her depth of soul. Whether calling out to the "Lady of the Sea" for love advice, declaring that the "Doctor" gives only bad news because he only tells the truth, or describing a relationship as "I am the rock, you are the Wind," she shoots from the heart continually. The creative use of instrumentation is also an attention grabber. In "Today," the percussion section included a manual typewriter, and the hidden track at the end of "Highway 101" includes a toy piano for innocent simplicity.

Hill is currently on tour promoting her new album. A schedule can be found on her website. She is also currently working on a third album, Meet Me at the Moon, slated for release sometime in 2011.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Wren Dillon

2 October 2010

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