EMMA-LEE Never Just A Dream (Special Agent) Rating: NNN
Toronto singer/songwriter Emma-Lee mines that 70s AM radio jazz pop feel that Feist has had such massive success with, but manages to bring enough of her own personality to the recipe to avoid dismissive comparisons. She's got a strong, emotive voice, and the production is lush and natural-sounding, which is both the strength and weakness of this album. The songs in some cases would benefit from a less confident, more vulnerable flavour to the vocals and a quirkier approach to the arrangements; at times she's a little too slick for her own good.
As a songwriter, Emma-Lee has a lot of potential, giving clever little lyrical twists to songs that initially seem completely conventional. It's that subtle edginess that she needs to embrace more. Lots of jazzy vocalists can sing nice, comfortable music, but not many play with the conventions creatively, which is where she shines.
Emma-Lee performs August 7 at Revival.