Review: Emily Maguire A BIT OF BLUE

Emily Maguire
Shaktu Records
Haunting landscapes and imagery rich songs
Emily Maguire, the British born singer-songwriter, has had a remarkable journey. Plucked from obscurity in 2007 to support Don McLean at the Royal Albert Hall, she has released 3 albums, written poetry and prose, published a book on the Bi-polar condition and suffered numerous health setbacks and challenges so it is no wonder that her songs aren’t three minute puff pieces about men.
Produced by Nigel Butler, (K.D. Lang, Robbie Williams, Will Young), he has helped to transform this set of beautiful, broken images into a series of ethereal songs, linked by the binding narrative of lush orchestration, sparse instrumentation and the dream-like quality of Maguire’s voice. This is no easy listen – this isn’t an album to pop on in the kitchen whilst you make tea. This is one of those rare, wonderful beasts in today’s instant world that has to be loved. Every lyric needs a time and space to breathe, to settle and to be poured over. Melodies are in abundance here but are not necessarily evident on first listen, you won’t get to the end and have one of the songs lodged like an ear-worm in your brain – A BIT OF BLUE is not one of those albums, it’s a grower, it needs nurturing and like everything that is given a chance to flourish it will give back in spades, as long as you allow it to.
Despite the fact that some of this album was recorded in Queensland, Australia and some in Ross-on-Wye there is a clear coherence and binding narrative running through the middle of it, linking all the songs together. Maguire’s haunting vocals and the beautiful use of piano and strings produce a lush yet sparse feel to many of the tracks. It is by no means an easy listen but who said music has to always be commercial and consumable? If you prefer your music deep, dark and dramatic, if you want every lyric on every line to have a meaning and not just placed there to advance a melody then A BIT OF BLUE might well be your colour. James Daykin

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