Review: Emily Jane White – Blood/Lines

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Having never listened to Emily Jane White in the past; it came as quite a shock when a quick Google of the artist produced the word ‘sadcore’. Two thoughts come to mind: firstly, I don’t quite understand why the internet (more accurately anonymous Wikipedia authors) choose to breed new genres tailored for every artist and secondly was I ready for ‘sadcore’ so close  to Christmas? But judging artists based on a Wikipedia would be quite low and thankfully TFFT doesn’t encourage that level of ignorance. So this was definitely another opportunity to indulge in the pleasures of unfolding new music. Emily Jane White is by no means new to the ‘folk’ scene; her first album was released in 2007 and Blood/Lines is the fourth album from the Californian native.

The album begins with My Beloved which acts as a fitting opening to the ghostly sounds of Emily Jane White. We’re immediately drawn into a beautifully eerie opening which in the second half, makes a fluid transition into an up tempo realm akin to early traditional American blues. What follows, adheres to the same template of using ethereal vocals to draw out continuous gothic motifs that run through the entire record. However, what is refreshing is that although the songs are closely identical instrumentally, lyrically, Emily Jane White approaches the overall gothic theme from numerous viewpoints. Keely, the first single takes a romantic stance; whilst in contrast; Wake draws on darker notions filled with its own fair share of melancholy, her website speaks of “emoting an icily sentimental suicide pact between lovers with a foreboding end”.

Blood/Lines draws on heavy percussion, striking electrical guitars and perhaps most unusually synthesizers as a source of its musical foundation. The idea that synthesizers got buried away with the bad hair and shoulder pads of the 80s is often celebrated, despite this, Emily Jane White incorporates this into her sound using a more refined technique which is a long way from synth pop yet electrifies traditional sounds of folk music. There are moments where this proved to be a downside to the album. It proved difficult to sake the feeling of ‘I’ve heard this before’ when listening to the record.

Perhaps my ignorance prevented me from delving into the early releases of Emily Jane White, but in recent years, bands like Warpaint have also dabbled in the whole atmospheric/electronic/folk/neofolk/gothic genre and although it may appear as a dragged out and aimless comparison as they are both established artists in their own right; personally, identifying a unique Emily Jane White ‘stamp’ was difficult.

Despite everything, it is important to note that Blood/Lines is put together with a valuable amount of skill and artistry. It may prove to be a difficult first listen for lovers (myself included) of more optimistic artists that dwell on an idealistic picture of life. But it cannot be argued that Blood/Lines presents nine tastefully written songs which are testament to the various talents of Emily Jane White.

Simi Abidakun