Review: Emily Burgess, “Arrow”

Emily Burgess, “Arrow”

Peterborough, ON singer-songwriter/guitarist Emily Burgess releases her third studio album, “Arrow,” out into the world today, and it’s a real cracker.  Taking time to listen to an advance copy this week, my mind immediately conjured up images of Shawn Colvin’s best moments for comparative purposes during that first spin. These are immediately catchy songs that absorb you deeper and deeper with each repeated play.

The up-tempo, infectious poppy sounding “Trickin’ My Heart” kicks off the proceedings, but the underlying groove for much of the rest is a blues-infused, sometimes swampy, country sound that I guess you’d find filed under the Americana section of your local record store. I’m not saying that Emily is stepping away from her ‘rocking out’ roots that we’ve enjoyed in the past – no, you only have to spend time with both “So Easily” and “Girl Made Of Stone” if you’re looking for that particular sound.

Emily Burgess

There’s a slight rasp in Emily’s voice that allows a seamless transition between Americana, blues and rock without appearing jarring to neither the listener nor herself. Emily also has an added advantage of surrounding herself with a very tight band: Sam Weber (electric guitar/percussion), Ryan Weber (keyboards/percussion), and her Emburys bandmates Dawson McManus (bass) and Marcus Browne (drums).

This quintet makes for a particularly solid outfit – without star names, and no flashy look at me solos, just musicians doing exactly what’s best for the songs at exactly the right moment. Hats off also to the Weber Brothers for their co-production duties, and to both James McKenty and Andy Pryde for mixing and mastering.

With ten tracks to choose from, it is difficult to pick a favourite or stand out song from this collection, but after much consideration, I discovered a special affection for three of them in particular: the album’s opener, the lyrically skipping “I Didn’t Mean It,” which just flows beautifully, and the glorious “Kawartha Pines,” which I’m sure Colvin herself would be pleased with.  Just drawing such comparisons, in my humble opinion, shows that Emily Burgess is surely continuing along the pathway to many greater things ahead.

Music has been a lifelong passion, a journey that as a child embraced the late 60's counter culture and has lasted until the present day. Despite trying to play guitar for the best part of 45 years, to his own frustration, never much beyond the first four bars of “Stairway to Heaven.” A self-confessed vinyl junkie, his other interests include collecting music memorabilia, old Muhammad Ali fight programs, and watching film. He lives alone in Nottingham (England) and still uses the term “Groovy” - these two facts may be intrinsically connected.

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