An Americana Acid Trip
If you see Emily Wells, tell her I’ll have what she’s having.
To call her a multi-instrumentalist seems diminutive. She plays everything – from a guitar to a glockenspiel – and plays it well. Her live looping is a sight to see. She layers her samples (and abilities) in stacks thicker than a brick wall; creating a veritable song molasses that seeps deep into the cobwebbed corners of a listener’s brain. Her latest LP Mama may not seem like much at first pass, but believe me – Wells has concocted some serious stillwater, running deeper than your murkiest dreams.
Imagine sending CocoRosie off in a time machine with a suitcase full of hallucinogens, and strict instructions to stay in the United States. The resulting album might come close to Mama, perhaps with less enjoyable hooks. The record is equal parts beat machine and real live instruments (the kind that orchestras play!), with squeaky, slinky vocals and a haunted house vibe. Ms. Wells has created some truly demented new millenium hill songs.
Tunes like “Dirty Sneakers and Underwear” and “Piece of It” feel like they’ve been pulled from the 19th century Appalachian frontier, then reworked for 8-Track. With cricket samples. Then there’s “Johnny Cash’s Mama,” which contains strong traces of Tom Waits and New Wave – if both were cranked through a gramaphone in an abandoned ballroom. Like a riverbank baptism from Jimi Hendrix, this record is Americana gone utterly bananas – and it is absolutely beautiful to behold.
So like I said – if you see her…