Emma Moore has always struck me as a real scholar of country music. So for her latest record, it wouldn’t surprise me if she had been studying the music of the Pistol Annies. The sass, satire and sweetness on her new EP, ‘The Table’, have all the hallmarks of a Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley influence. Whether true or not, it reveals the measure of Emma’s success in putting together a six-track collection that packs a real feminist punch, full of strong messages, subversive tendencies, and unapologetic sentiment.
In opening track ‘Husbands or Kids’, Emma gets right down to business, laying down the gauntlet to those who believe that these are the only two options open to women. She challenges this notion head-on, through her declaration that “I’ll take option three”, this slightly tongue-in-cheek comment being characteristic of the whole song, with its rock-infused music beating home her point in style. ‘Late to the Table’ is no less forceful in its attempt to smash the normative ideal of two-point-four children, though it does so against a background of slow tempo sound. This can appear deceptive, the hypnotic guitars drawing you in at the same time as the lyrics are allowed to come to the fore. But it is important that the message of the song be heard because it is a perspective that is widely felt but rarely acknowledged. Such honesty is one of the strengths of ‘The Table’; its challenging of social taboos a pleasant surprise.
Third track ‘Waiting for You’ is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in a long while. What makes it so is its complexity. It is full of seemingly contrasting feelings – hope and regret, humility and jealousy, love and loss – yet they perfectly represent the complicated affairs of the human heart. Again, Emma Moore lays everything on the table emotionally to capture a reality that is highly relatable, using a stripped back composition to give the song a mesmeric quality. Similarly, ‘When’ offers minimal instrumentation to give a fresh take on the traditional cheating song. What is used however appears to have been carefully chosen, the pedal steel pulling at the heartstrings as Emma tells the story of someone who has become the “other woman” in a relationship. She cleverly holds back the vocals, never venturing into full power ballad mode, which grants the song a subtle sadness that may not otherwise have been there. It is incredibly touching as a result.
The EP finishes with a belter of a song. ‘Match Made in Hell’ ensures that if she’s going, Emma Moore is going down in fiery flames of country-singed rock. It features two lines that deserve particular mention, “the only scripture I recall/ was written in a bathroom stall” aptly making it onto one of Emma’s associated merch t-shirts. These represent the overall ingenuity of the lyrics throughout ‘The Table’, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes rebellious, sometimes serious, but always genuine and never wasted or uninteresting. They capture an artist who feels unafraid and confident in her own voice. She knows what she wants to say and does so deftly through a genre that fits her like a glove. ‘The Table’ demonstrates how perfectly matched Emma Moore is to country music, and is certainly one of the best releases by a UK female artist on the scene so far this year.
Review written by Gareth Williams (twitter.com/lostinbluejazz1)