A down-to-earth fairytale
Hong Kong-born and UK-raised singer, songwriter and culture writer Emma Lee Moss, operating under the name Emmy the Great, released her latest album April /月音 on October 9th, 2020. This album was impressively written in two short weeks mainly at a creamery. For an album written in such a short amount of time, April /月音 is surprisingly rich in storytelling. The album tells stories taking place in one’s everyday life, but also includes songs that speak of life changing themes. These themes make perfect sense in relation to Emma’s life at the time she wrote the album. Emma wanted to use the album to return to her native language that being Mandarin, thus she wrote much of the album with her birthplace in mind.
“Mid-Autumn/月音” sets the scene of the story. Emma starts the song with a beg for the audience to be quiet and sifts into gentle whispers. She begins to sing soft and muffled lyrics in Chinese, soon pushed to the side by the entrance of her speaking voice, telling a story in Chinese. “Writer” follows and recounts the mundaneness of everyday life, Lee Moss singing of everyday activities such as once in a while getting up to take a meal and looking out the window.
April /月音 contains many whimsical songs with creative lyrics and a thickly coated underlying meaning. “Writer” is an excellent example of this, rhyming lyrics such as “Are you going to stare at me all day/ Just standing in my way/ Staring at my face/ Like a tennis game/ Like a wedding day/ In a picture frame.” The lyrics are exciting and begging to be paid attention to. April /月音 is an album that is all about the lyrics, those that must be listened to in order to understand the story that Emma is trying to tell and are supported by Emma’s charming voice.
“Dandelions / Liminal” is an upbeat tune that presents an underlying theme that one must let go of the desire for perfection in everyday life. This song begs the listener not to be so uptight, her lyrics singing, “I’m not looking for straight lines/ Think it could be the same / Come on let’s be dandelions scattered all over the place.” With some deeper thought, it becomes clear what the lyrics want to say, their metaphorical nature underscoring the creative approach that Lee Moss has taken to her storytelling album.
“Okinawa / Ubud,” “Heart Sutra” and “Mary” follow with themes that are centered around recounting everyday life in a poetic way; the tracks clearly alluding to past events of Emma’s life that she has so beautifully masked with song. “Hollywood Road / April” passes on one last message to the listener, a positive one instructing the listener to open themselves up to the realization that everything is going to be ok for them, and that if they still can’t realize it, they need to try again.
Emmy the Great brings to the table an album that simply cannot be played as background music. It is one that is too well worked and meaningful to lack the listener’s full attention. Through her journey to connect with her heritage, Emma has created a masterpiece in April /月音 that can mean something to anyone, no matter what their place in life may be.