“Emma-Liz Sings the Blues” is the project’s debut album, recorded between Boston and DC. True to the “lay-it-bear” philosophy Davis chose for the album at the outset, the instrumentation is strikingly sparse–a strong lead vocal, bathed in harmony vocals, above a single, mostly fingerpicked guitar. Thematically, the album is at once domestic, ambitious, and decidedly literary. Existence in, departure from, and return to the home in the “Little Sister” songs is juxtaposed with the transition from sanity to insanity and back again in “Lullaby,” and “Bluebell Meadow.” By “Emma-Liz” and “The Stove, the Lights, the Radio,” house-and-city has converged more or less entirely with reason-and-instability. Davis explores these intimate and sometimes explosive topics subtly, sometimes casually, in a way that is neither self-righteous nor overbearing.
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