October 23, 2008

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Emily Wells, The Symphonies
Creative Control Records, Oct. 14

The rap on Emily Wells is that she refused a major label record deal for the sake of staying indie and futzing around with her prehistoric 4-track, recording herself singing over pretty much every sort of instrument you could think of, mostly the violin. The result, in short, is what might have transpired had Siouxsie grown up listening to TLC albums. Wells is a freak, but not in that sense; her misfit ways have her playing violins, glockenspiels, banjoes and toy pianos to produce the, well, symphonic vibe redolent of the opening salvos to half the rap-n-B songs out there, as if she’s fixated on sandblasting away at glitzy things like Destiny’s Child’s “Soldier” until all that’s left is the ghetto breeze and the simple-stupid Beethoven. She’s not a total hiphop chick – there’s some straightforward pop (and Tchaikovsky – “In the Barrel of a Gun” uses more woodblock and tambourine than anything from The Sleeping Beauty) to all of this, but what makes this special is her completeness: the formula is intriguing and really needs nothing else to make it tick. B-EWS