High Romance from Emily Mae Winters is an album full of delights. Just when you think you know her sound, she will surprise you with something completely different.
The first song, ‘Come Live in my Heart & Pay No Rent’, is exactly what I expected. As such, I was preparing for a record full of ballads, showcasing Winters’ impressive vocals. The earthy and ethereal sound of ‘This Land’ appeared to confirm my assumptions, with ‘Would the World Stop Turning?’ drawing comparisons with the likes of Gillian Welch and Mary Gautier. However, ‘Wildfire’ soon swept away the pensive tones of these early tracks with a heavy twang of the electric guitar, ‘Gin Tingles & Whiskey Shivers’ following with a bluesy-rock sound that is, quite simply, wonderful. ‘How Do You Fix a Broken Sun?’ then moves us into folk territory, a gentle build from acoustic guitar into full-band sound underscoring the wildly sublime vocals of Winters, who at times reminds me of Sandi Thom.
‘Take Me In’ takes us back to the ballad before ‘Flaming Rose’ lifts the mood again with a super combination of rock and folk. ‘Closer’ is then probably the most interesting song on the album for me. Coming in at just over two minutes, it is short but oh so sweet. With a simple hand-clapping rhythm keeping time against the intriguing dual-harmony vocals, there is something particularly pleasing about this track when you get to the end of it.
The final two tracks, ‘Across the Wire’ and ‘One of These Days’, are also pleasing, but in a very different way. These are very atmospheric; both lyrically captivating and sonically stunning. Beautiful in their own right, they nevertheless round off High Romance in striking style. They completed a journey that was, for me, like a maze – an intriguing exploration through music that offered a surprise around every corner.
Emily Mae Winters is an exciting talent, and High Romance makes for an enjoyable listen.
Review by Gaz Williams