Emma Knights, of Emma Knights Productions, is well known across South Australia for producing award-winning productions, music directing, accompanying or appearing in orchestra pits for local theatre companies. Knights has also written and performed several solo cabaret shows, The Piano Men (Edinburgh Fringe – 2018 and Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival – 2019) and most recently Lady Fingers as part of the Back2Back Festival at Star Theatres.
Knights has spent the best part of 2020 writing and recording her debut album, Anticipate, due to be launched December 16, thanks to the support of and a grant from The Music Development Office of South Australia. The whole album was recorded over a five day period at The House of Bamboo with technical support from Monty Ruggiero.
A bonus track on the album, Oh, To Be Nothing has a very personal connection to Knights. This track was recorded with her sister on her farm. It was originally written by Georgina Taylor in 1869, and transcribed by Knights’ Nanna in May 1935. She still has the original sheet music. The other 10 tracks were all composed by Knights over the course of 2020, except for the piece Flat Out, which Knights composed when she was studying at WAPPA in 2002.
The album itself is a perfect reflection of Knights. It is raw and honest and from the heart. It has a wonderful live studio vibe about it, rather than an overly edited sound. There is a real strong connection between the lyrics and the music. The piece There’s No Beauty has a strong driving piano riff that builds tension that is reflected perfectly in the lyrics, which discuss companies trying to mine in the Great Australian Bight. As a hills’ dweller myself, I felt a strong connection to the ode to Stirling, Wintertime in Stirling. Knights’ voice has a wonderful warmth to it. The rawness of her singing adds another layer in the tapestry she weaves through her pieces. Knights’ expansive musical education and understanding of many genres of music is a strong feature of this album. Ballads, Jazz, modern pop – this album covers a vast array of genres, highlighting Knights’ skills in composition.
Along with Knights on piano, the album features two of Adelaide’s most in-demand musicians: Brody Green on drums and Milush Piochaud on bass. Both of these fine musicians bring a wealth of musical knowledge and expertise. Knights has worked with both Green and Piochaud countless times, and the bond they have formed musically is evident in the tightness of their ensemble work.
After the year that 2020 has been, it is pleasing to see local artists flourish and continue to produce such high quality works. And with Christmas only days away, a copy of Anticipate would be a great addition to any music lovers’ gift. Knights’ debut album can be purchased through her website www.emmaknights.com .
Review by Ben Stefanoff