This tiny little EP from Amanda Emblem and her experiment excels in soothing, while simultaneously delivering a lyrical punchy that goes along the tasty music and its execution, managing to travel niftily from folk, to reggae, to country, to blues in the span of its short runtime.
Based in Kandanga Creek, Australia, Amanda Emblem is a singer and songwriter with more than 20 years of experience under her belt, touring as a professional musician until she was stopped mid-tour by the 2020 pandemic, when she decided to branch out and pursue gardening, another love of hers. She was successful in that too, running an establishment in Queensland that still provides her community with fresh produce to this very day. We should count ourselves lucky she still has it in her bones to write and release music, as her EP ‘Power of One’ proves Emblem to be one capable and varied songwriter.
‘Power of One’ is the title track and the starting cut of the EP. A song filled with essential folk touches, the music is lifting and fulfilling, and the rich lyrics are a perfect compliment. The airy flutes flittering in the mix, the layers vocals and harmonies, and the bright acoustic rhythm guitar are all things considered hallmarks for the genre. The words, a perspective on the state of people in the modern age, are apprehensive and rough, but manage to maintain sophistication and eloquence in their criticisms, all of them factual. A song that calls for a revolution while practicing restraint and thorough musical dignity.
‘Empty Houses’ is a song that glides from its Reggae-esque beginning to an outro of pure soul. The snappy, highly-tuned drums and syncopated rhythm guitar lines all embrace the sound of a tiny room with their minute reverbs. Playing familiar reggae progressions with a familiar sense of sparsity to the mix, the intro morph into a more lush outro with a serene keyboard part and a different sequence of chords that serve the shift in mood from reggae to soul. ‘Hang Your Hat’ features a brushed drum shuffle that’s gentle and warm, words that are gentle and warm, and a composition that is, you guessed it, gentle and warm. The pop-country sensibilities of ‘Hang Your Hat’ give the song a sense of sleepiness that, coupled with some slide guitar noodling and melodic whistling, make the song a perfectly soothing foray.
The EP proper finishes with the fantastic ‘Mitchell Creek Blues’, before an acoustic version of ‘Power of One’ closes it entirely. With ‘Mitchell Creek Blues’ you get exactly what’s written on the box. An original blues riff played on a dirty, overdriven guitar, boomy drums play a tight performance and the thick and gregarious lead guitar tones beautifully saturate the mix in a couple of short but blistering solos.
The variety of styles and tones on such a short album, done without ever breaking character and without a single line ever feeling forced or out of place (side-eyeing the very highly mixed whistles on ‘Hang Your Hat’) is a clear indication of a songwriter who’s very much in control of all aspects of her sound. Amanda Emblem and her experiment stun on this brand new EP of theirs, and I bet her produce must be just as tasty as her music.