Glasgow born singer-songwriter Emma Jane was the subject of a recent artist spotlight post on the website, which coincided with the release of ‘Run’ the first track from her upcoming new album. A few weeks later and that album, ‘Workhorse’, has just been released. I was lucky enough to be sent the album by Emma Jane ahead of its release, so have been able to enjoy repeated listens to ‘Workhorse’ and am delighted to report that it is a wonderful piece of work.
The album kicks off with the aforementioned ‘Run’, a joyously rocking track packed full of attitude. A bluesy-Country sound is emphasised by the driving electric guitar and Emma Jane’s searing vocals. The lead-in to the chorus featuring fun hand-claps adds a slight playful tone, in line with the lady enjoying her new found freedom in the song. ‘Carter Cash’ finds Emma Jane in a more traditional Country setting, with its Bakersfield flavour. If track one did not make it abundantly clear, during ‘Carter Cash’ it is confirmed that this is a singer with a wonderfully distinctive and incredibly powerful voice. This tale of a woman declaring her love by offering to be June Carter to her beau’s Johnny Cash is the perfect vehicle for Emma Jane allowing her a full vocal workout which makes the track positively crackle with energy.
‘Old And Grey’ is an absolutely gorgeous duet with Sean C Kennedy, one of the highlights amongst the tracks on offer here. An ode to true love and dreams of growing old together, it is a beautifully written and sublimely performed ballad. Both singers are at the very top of their game, with their vocals complimenting each other perfectly. It has been quite some time since I have heard a song which manages to be quite so moving without resorting to hackneyed lyrics or being unnecessarily overdramatic. ‘Old And Grey’ is all the more touching by being completely relatable to the listener, echoing the hopes for long-lasting love that we all harbour.
The mood becomes a little edgier on the brooding ‘Unforgiven’, which features wonderful organ fills and a cracking electric guitar solo. Writing this review amidst a sweltering UK heatwave this track feels like the perfect soundtrack, with its slow-burning feel and languid pace. Emma Jane shows the variation in her delivery again on ‘Unforgiven’, with the song requiring both tender and powerful moments, both of which are handled perfectly by the singer. ‘Tunnels’ picks up the pace and is another good old-fashioned Country workout. Boasting an absolute belter of a chorus which Emma Jane sings the heck out of, ‘Tunnels’ is a track the listener will surely never tire of listening to, such is its infectious energy.
‘Delicate Minds’ is the most mainstream sounding song included on ‘Workhorse’, which would not sound out of place anywhere on the UK airwaves. A radio-friendly chorus and catchy mid-tempo melody provide the perfect ingredients for a breakout hit for Emma Jane, let’s hope programmers around the country are listening. If this lady can hook in new fans with ‘Delicate Minds’ and then convert them to the Country sounds of the likes of ‘Carter Cash’ we will have even more to thank her for. The album closes with ‘Hold On’ a stripped down, vocal led track. Impressive harmonies and backing vocals give the track a Southern church hymn-like quality, an intriguing note on which to sign off.
I will confess to not having given the music of Emma Jane the attention it so richly deserves before listening to ‘Run’ and awaiting the release of ‘Workhorse’. Prior to the arrival of this album I viewed all of the vides uploaded on Emma Jane’s YouTube channel, which come highly recommended (a recent cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ is not to be missed!). Now that ‘Workhorse’ is here I am realising my error in not catching on sooner. This is an artist of real talent, all of the songs here (with the exception of ‘Unforgiven’) are written by Emma Jane and showcase a real knack of grounding the material in reality and making the songs have all the more meaning for this. As for her vocals, it is no exaggeration to say that this lady has an amazing voice, blessed with incredible power and a wonderfully distinctive sound.
I wish Emma Jane every success with ‘Workhorse’, a highly accomplished album which confirms her as one of the UK’s finest singer-songwriters. If you have yet to make Emma Jane’s acquaintance musically then I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of ‘Workhorse’ now, the perfect introduction to the lady and her glorious music.
(Originally published 18/07/14)