Music Review: Emma Louise @ Unibar, 27/10/16

Thursday night in Adelaide? It would scare the bejesus out of most touring bands but Emma Louise delivered a powerful demonstration of why she is one of Australia’s premiere chanteuse.

Thursday evening in began late, and so it should, with the Unibar hosting a welcome return to Adelaide for the increasingly acclaimed talents of Emma Louise, on a rare venture to headline in our back yard.

It feels like local supports at shows like this are obligatory rather than a considered addition, but when you have the calibre of Auguste, who would be quite at home on any A&R pathway with any of the larger bookers in the country, you notice just how complete an evening can feel. As opposed to simply ‘warming up’ the crowd, Auguste probably surprised a lot early with a confident set of deep vocal harmonies balanced against well constructed electronic pop. Their recent success on the Indie Shuffle charts is no mistake, they are immediately accessible, and their live dynamic has the confidence to match any seasoned tourer. Well played.

For those who know the work of Mark Zito, the choice of Fractures as the main support seemed a no brainer, but was evidently a last minute addition to the tour. Fractures is one of those artists who confound the kids who love their bangers; here’s a guy who will wrench your guts, break your heart and leave you with a smile on your face all in the same song, then repeat the process for his entire set. For some, ‘dem feels’ are like a smoky oolong and a bit strong in the mouth, but for those who can get over it and taste the flavours on offer earnestly, he is all kinds of delicious. A catalogue of tracks still being discovered, despite his being a part of the touring scene for several years now, are rarely played live in Adelaide and for the front two rows who all seemed to know the words, this was a very special treat. Cadence, It’s Alright, Twisted and a new track soon to be released (in the coming weeks in fact we’re told) hit the spot and set the emotive prelude for the headline. Mark, please come back soon. We can feed and house you, if you keep singing those sweet words.
Emma Louise, for a period of time, seemed not to fit into Australian music with the likes of Ngaiire, Asta, Meg Mac, George Maple, Montaigne and Eves The Behavior all setting a new standard for stand alone female singer/songwriters in Australia, she has been allowed, for want of a better word, a popular context to arrest audiences. It’s weird how the Flight Facilities Two Bodies single, backing up on the re-release of a Jungle remix by German DJs Wankelmut (great name by the way), were kind of necessary to bring her to a broader public consciousness. Now, her haunting voice; equal parts vulnerable yet confident, fractured yet clear, a unique characteristic which will define her period of time making music, seems to resonate to a broader audience. And the several hundred who joined her to celebrate the Supercry Tour in Adelaide were treated to a performer who is already exceptional, yet seems she may have even more to give. How exciting.

Her disarming cover of Into My Arms, album tracks Underflow, Talk Baby Talk and West End Kids were earnestly performed while Melbourne’s Yeo who just happened to be in her touring band, was also given a chance to shine on stage. The thing about the Emma Louise stage presence is that it’s personal without being over-indulgent or feeling contrived. Her songs have always seemed honest, and her persona certainly reflects it. But we’ll keep coming back to that voice… after nearly 10 years writing and releasing music  it feels like, at 25, she’s finally allowing it to come into it’s own and while her falsetto is impressive it’s her contralto moments which are, interestingly, those which draw you in to just rest in the moment.

Emma Louise
Let’s hope she’s got more music in her soon, and that we’re not beholden by festival line ups to see her return. Intimate is exactly where Emma Louise should be. Can you just imagine her at one of Adelaide’s Porch Sessions?! Wow…

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