Dorset singer-songwriter Emma Gale recently released her beautifully crafted self-titled debut album. The Americana record is both nostalgic and hopeful, with a mixture of upbeat tracks and slowed-down ballads.
With Peter Kirkbride on ukulele, Chris Pepper on bass, keyboards, percussion, guitar, backing vocals, drums, electric guitar, Melvin Duffy on pedal steel, Nik Newark on piano, Tanya Brittain on accordion, Angus Lyon on piano, and Robbie Mcintosh on electric guitars and mandolin.
The record - also produced by Boo Hewerdine - was recorded at Chris Pepper's Saltwell Studio in Cambridgeshire and Emma Gale's home studio. Chris mixed the record, and Emma collaborated with many co-writers from the UK and US on some tracks.
Emma is a lyricist above all else and proves it with her outstanding storytelling throughout her album. A truthful, observational style is at the center of her approach to writing, as she takes us through a reflective journey of love, loss, hope, conflict, romance, and much more.
"Let's see what the earth has to say" is the first song and the first single off of the album, which became a viral hit! The song is extremely lyrically stimulating. It touches on the topic and conflict of desiring material things and "how much changes in one day." Even though Emma introduces deep lyrics, the ukulele in the song gives it a very bright mood which sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The second song, "She'll never be me," is one of the album's most relatable and emotional songs. Emma sings, "The music that we played set us free. She must sing all the songs I used to sing like joleyne". The song makes us reminisce on our loves and heartbreaks. The production breathes an air of sadness and depth. The instrumental melodies are soul-grabbing as we bob our heads or find a partner to slow dance with to this stunning piece of music.
The third song, "Showbiz," picks up the pace right away, accompanied by an edgier tone than the two previous tracks. Emma's vocals give off a mysterious touch. She sings "Show business, show business," which sounds a bit straight out of a movie scene. However, it's catchy and upbeat with a country-infused sound. Emma says, "On the surface, Showbiz is about celebrity love, but I think it goes deeper. It touches on all of our lives in the way that we live them these days - we tend to spend a lot of time on social media, only showing people what we want to show. So 'she' in the song could be me, it could be you… we're all slightly guilty of only showing the highlight reel of our lives."
Track four, "Tonight the night," slows back down, making us feel like we were sitting up in the mountains watching the snowfall or by the fireplace in a cabin. Again, the patient and lovely chords relax our senses as we get lost as she sings, "scattering memories all over our bed, love letters that no longer make any sense" and "im leaving this all behind. I promise it's for the last time" insinuates that the relationship has been toxic, or that she's been heartbroken again and again, but that she has finally gathered the will to move up and move on.
For the 5th song, "Love got the better of me," Emma is accompanied by acclaimed and award-winning songwriter and composer Dan Whitehouse. The song opens up with beautiful warm guitar riffs and a dreamy array of chords in the background of the track, giving the song a very soulful ambiance. It's a sweet and upbeat track about falling for someone. "I used to worry I'd be waiting here forever, then love got the better of me." It's a hopeful tale in song form.
The sixth track, "Go As I Am," has one of the album's strongest lines: "don't bother giving the mirror a second glance. I think I'll just go as I am." The accordion on the song gives it a classic feeling and a traveling feeling, as though we're on a train looking out the window. Again, Emma's vocals are soothing and compliment the production perfectly.
The 7th song, "Sorry," might be the most cinematic song on the album. It reminds us of something that perhaps Phill Collins would produce. It has a big motion picture sound. The drums are perfectly executed. The strings are heavenly, and the overall production is strong and heartfelt—a timeless piece, nostalgic of childhood.
The 8th song, "Meet You By the Bridge," is a beautiful Ballad. The song can have various meanings. To us, it could be touching on the subject of suicide or even about taking a leap of faith. It's a very intriguing piece that can easily trigger different scenes and feelings out of different people. It's a nice transitional piece that goes into the next song, "Goodbye," which can perhaps continue the love story.
"Goodbye "is a classic tune. It's filled with regret, memories, and desires. Its arrangement switches up, giving the song lots of energy. Lines like "The world inside my mind is screaming" and "my dreams scream reality" display Emma's conflicted emotions and not being able to come to terms with the fact that she never got to say Goodbye as she wished to.
The last song, "Enjoy Life While You Can," is a mellow track carrying the message that we should live life to the fullest and appreciate the small things. Emma has one of our favorite vocal performances on this dreamy song. She flows seamlessly and naturally alongside the pluck of warm guitar strings that make us feel like we are dancing in an open field. The song captures being free and closes the album on a very sweet and heartfelt note. Comforting, very much like a poetic lullaby.
Congratulations on your new album! We adore the heart and soul put into each one of these magnificent songs. Do you have a favorite song on the album, and if yes, why is that one your favorite?
Oh, that is such a difficult question to answer. I guess every song I have written is a favorite in its own way, and they all mean something to me. Let's See What The Earth Has to Say was the song that I wrote about the uncertainty about the lockdown, and if it wasn't for that song, then I probably wouldn't be promoting my album as much as I am now. Showbiz is the song that I have just released and is an observational song about celebrity obsession and have so many fond memories of making the video. Enjoy Life While You Can has a really important message, and I love the vibe of the song, Meet You By the Bridge means so much to me personally. Goodbye was one of the first songs that I wrote for the album, along with Go As I Am and Tonight's The Night. I really love the song Love Got the Better of Me because it's a duet, and I love the way that my and Dan Whitehouse's voices sound together. Sorry is a song that I wrote in Nashville and had quite a personal meaning, and She'll Never Be Me was written about the experience of leaving a band. All of them have some kind of fondness.
Although I must say, I do have a new song which is the song I am listening to most of all at the moment. I won't tell you much about that now, but it's a really lovely song, and so I do wonder if that is my current favorite.
We are in Love with your ballad "Meet You By The Bridge." Can you please break down the meaning and story behind this song? What inspired you to create it?
Ahh, so Meet you By the Bridge means a lot to me, and I wrote and released it as a charity single for the Doodle Trust in the UK. I became linked with the Doodle Trust when I fostered two Labradoodles, Oscar and Lily, over Christmas 2011. I only had the intention to look after them over Christmas, but I ended up adopting them both, and they stayed with me for the rest of their lives.
I started writing Meet You By the Bridge when Oscar was diagnosed with lymphoma in about 2014. Unfortunately,, we lost him shortly afterward. I finished and recorded the song when I knew Lily was coming to the end of her life in August 2020.
Meet You By The Bridge describes the hardest decision you ever have to make for your pet. Meet You By The Bridge is about letting your pet go to that place called Rainbow Bridge, where they will wait for the very special person they have left behind. I wanted to make it emotional and relatable and to resonate with owners who were having to make that really hard but important decision about when to say goodbye to their pet.
I also wanted to be able to deal with the feelings that I was feeling at that particular time, and writing the song definitely helped me to do that. Most of it was written with tears in my eyes and a tissue in hand. I definitely achieved the emotion, and I know lots of people have told me that it has helped them. The song is accompanied by a cute video and has Lily and our new dog Clara in it.
After listening to the album, we couldn't help but feel as though we had attended a concert at Woodstock! The album is beyond refreshing! We are so curious to know who some of your biggest musical inspirations are?
Wow, that's an amazing compliment. Thank you. So I have come to songwriting a little later than most people, and so I have listened to a lot of music over the years. My parents brought me up on a diet of Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Lynard Skynard. I listened to Michael Jackson and Motown in my informative years. I do love lots of different types of music, but my influences have to be Gilbert O'Sullivan, who I listened to when I was five and learned all of his songs. Sheryl Crow was a major influence when I was in a covers band in my 20s and 30s, and I used to love singing her songs. Suzanne Vega is one of my favorite acoustic artists, and I have seen her many times and have covered her songs. I love artists like Brandi Carlile, Alison Krauss, Pink, and Lady Gaga (recent years), and I am just starting to listen to Kirsty MacColl, and many people have said that my songs remind me them of her.
You've captured so many unique experiences within these songs. What advice do you have for upcoming songwriters who are struggling to tell their truth?
To do exactly that. Tell the truth and be authentic. When I first started writing songs, I think I was trying too hard. The songs that seem to be working for me now are the ones that are simple, do not try to be too poetic or clever, and just really say it how it is.
It's really good to focus right in on one idea and write about that, rather like a scene from a movie. You could actually make a whole album over a scenario like a breakup, so it's about really focussing on the emotion of a single moment.
I also think it's a good idea to look at things to write about outside of Love. Yes, of course, I have written love songs and breakup songs, and I think that's where songwriters tend to draw a lot of inspiration. Funnily enough, I am a member of an online community, and I love their strapline, which is 'The best thing to happen to the songwriter since the broken heart.' That said, I think there are so many other subjects to write about.
Also, working with other people is key. Co-writing is my favorite thing to do, and you will always write a better song.
What's next for you?
I am working with a publisher in the US and writing songs for film and TV. I am also writing songs for pitching for other artists and looking to write with other songwriters. Although I have released my debut album, I never really had the intention to promote myself as an artist. I call myself an accidental indie artist because the dream was to be a professional songwriter writing pop songs working with other people. But I now have another few songs for my artist project in the pipeline, which I will release later this year, and I am just starting to rehearse with a band. We are hoping to do some smaller festivals.
I am also doing a Ph.D. in songwriting at Birmingham City University and engaging with lots of songwriters in the online community across Europe and the US. I recently had a radio interview when I said, 'I am a songwriter.' That made me feel so good. I am really enjoying myself and most of all having fun.