26th April 2022
Tuesday Blues - The 100 Club, London
Yet again I find myself at Tuesday Blues at the 100 Club, but this time to witness the vocal phenomenon that is Emma Wilson. Having written a debut album 'Wish Her Well' of ten original songs, this was an opportunity to showcase them before the album’s subsequent release on the Friday 13th May (a bold move).
The set list here differs from the album’s ordering to allow for tempo changes suited to live performance. So here she opts to begin with the weary and sombre opening of 'Back on the Road'. As I’ve written before, Emma’s vocal style is steeped in 60’s classic American Soul music but has an English contemporary Pop sensibility which marks her out.
'Little Love Bites' was a simple acoustic ditty that she had penned, but her resourceful band managed to transform it into a strong album track and the sustained cry at the finish is reminiscent of Marvin Gaye on his seminal album, 'What’s Going On'. She then goes to tell the story of how she worked, at one point, as a shot girl in a bar when she first came to London and hence the subject-matter for 'Rack ‘Em Up', and appropriately the tempo is raised with Adam Chetwood obliging with a complementary guitar solo.
'Blossom like Snow' is outstanding: it’s delivered with the low register of Amy Winehouse but the dynamics change and she allows her voice to soar accompanied by some well executed and tight bass licks from Mark Neary. The mood changes for 'She Isn’t You', a song about a doomed love triangle as she confides in the audience, however it is perfectly crafted to demonstrate her melismatic vocal technique perfectly.
'Mary Lou' comes later, and once again, chameleon-like, she manages to summon up Elizabeth Fraser’s performance of 'Teardrop' on Massive Attack’s 'Mezzanine', all sweetness and clarity (this is a challenge to the reader to see whether you agree with me). The closing, 'Not Paying', sees a shift in tempo once again, and should be singled out as the rockiest of the numbers presented here, it chugs along with real menace and has Emma spit out the lyrics, suitably pacing about the stage, putting one in mind of the riff from Led Zeppelin’s 'How Many Times'.
So, there you have it: outstanding vocal abilities, complete mastery of range and a nomination at the UK Blues Awards for “Emerging Blues Artist of the Year”. One can only wish her well.
Ivan De Mello