REVIEW: Emma Swindells – ‘Radio Silence’ (EP)

2017 was a year to remember for West Midlands artist Emma Swindells. The Wolverhampton Country Night, a monthly event at Bantock House organised by Emma and BCMA director Jim Duncan, grew in popularity and continues to go from strength to strength. Emma also received great recognition from the BCMA and the UK country community at the BCMA Awards in October, taking away the award for ‘Horizon Act Of The Year’ against stiff competition. Things really seem to be clicking into gear for Emma right now, and she’s followed up the success with the release of her new ‘Radio Silence’ EP.

The title track ‘Radio Silence’ kicks off the EP and instantly there’s a totally different vibe to what we’re used to and it sees Emma experimenting outside of her comfort zone which is always great to see from an artist. It’s always intriguing to see how people can push their boundaries and this electric guitar-driven track is certainly the most out-of-the-box offering we’ve heard from Emma to date. She makes no secret of her Miranda Lambert influences and maybe there was some inspiration there for this edgy, and rather heavy opening number.

‘Lover and My Best Friend’ sees a return to more familiar ground with a catchy guitar riff and a much more traditional, rootsy style than the opener. This one’s a quirky one lyrically, taking inspiration from the famous Shania Twain-Robert Lange story of a ‘friendly’ affair, shall we say! “How did I miss it, I couldn’t see that snake in the grass. When I needed loyalty was it to much to ask?” – it’s a very catchy chorus that you won’t be able to get out of your head!

‘Carry Your Load’ is the first time we hear of Emma’s signature banjo and it adds some real character and energy as it builds in the background throughout the verse, bridge and into the chorus. It’s already become a firm favourite amongst fans from her monthly Bantock performances as well as her festival appearances (her Buckle & Boots show in particular where the song truly shone with a full band).

‘Disappear’ is by far the stand-out track on the EP for me. It’s a really pretty, elegant track with simplistic yet effective instrumentation and Emma delivers with lovely emotion; it comes across as a very personal one. It’s got that goose bump factor, particularly with the beautiful harmony throughout the track. “Feels like I’m going in circles every day, fighting that craving to sit and watch my dreams fade away” – it’s about wanting to have that drive and passion to stand out and make a change and “rekindle the fire”, a track with great substance and depth.

‘Lost For Words’ brings the tempo back up to complete the EP. “I don’t know why love makes me so shy, I’m embarrassed and tongue-tied, I’ve run out of lines” – one that I’m sure a few of us can relate to when we have those anxious moments! In terms of the instrumentation, the production on this EP certainly does the job and this is another example with sparing but effective use of electric guitars and an energetic melody throughout.

I’m sure this will prove to be another popular EP with Emma’s contingent of followers and I’m sure people at festivals all over the UK will have the chance to hear the material over the course of this year. Be sure to check out one of the Wolverhampton Country Nights to see Emma live, as well as a selection of the UK’s home-grown talent every month!

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan