2 December 2015
Heart N Soul's eclectic, soulful music artist Lizzie Emeh’s new EP, See Me Part 1 - The Clan was released in November with a launch event at the Albany, London. The EP is the first of a three part release. Ivan Riches casts his expert ear over it.
Having met Lizzie Emeh and seen her perform live, I am keen to see how she develops. See Me Part 1 - The Clan is the follow up to her highly acclaimed MOBO award-winning debut album Loud and Proud (reviewed here by DAO). Improving on what has been done previously, or keeping up momentum is a challenge for any artist and getting past the hype of awards is a heavy burden.
For me, the most striking attribute of Emeh's work is not the breadth of music styles she can write and perform in, but her lyrics, being equally both uniquely personal and universal. On three of the songs on this new release, as far as the lyrics go, Emeh has utterly impressed me. They are insightful songs and she has proved herself a wordsmith equal to, and often beyond many pop song writers.
What I am not so keen on is the EP's over-production; somehow it gets in the way of her unique voice. On some of the tracks I would have preferred less polish and a little more rawness or bite to match the lyrics. But that's my preference and probably not to the taste of others. Still, I would have liked a more live feel to the EP. For me, Emeh's live performances are far stronger than her studio recordings, something about her rapport with her audience makes her excel.
On 'Going Down', Emeh's lyrics provide a wonderfully quirky view of travel across London, via the underground to go out and see friends. It's like a more urban ‘Downtown’ by Dusty Springfield, with snatches of Madness and The Jam in its structure.
'See Me' is my favourite piece on the EP. A song about being happy after the death of someone close, which would make an excellent sing along for a wake, or after-funeral party. I love it. 'See Me’ is an upbeat ditty about carrying happy memories of someone close:
“When we laid you to rest I was really happy because you were in no more pain. And do you know what we still got the memories of you…”
For me, 'Come into the Light' is the most difficult to listen to, although it's a great song. The verses work really well but Emeh’s voice seems to struggle against the structure and orchestration of the chorus and bridge. The lyrics are excellent, beautiful and comforting, carrying a message akin to a low key ‘Bridge over Troubled Water,’ which sets, possibly a too high bar for her voice. Again, I feel that over-production has not helped here.
'Ranting & Raving' feels a bit like a filler. It's wonderfully catchy, but for me does not have a message to the standard of the other songs. Maybe I’m being overly critical here; why not just have a bit of fun?
Apart from what I feel about the over-production, this is a great EP with some excellent lyrics. I look forward to the second part of the See Me trilogy.