American singer-songwriter Emily King’s third album Scenery sees her take a step away from her New York City roots. Freshly signed to independent label ATO Records and newly residing in the peaceful expanse of the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, Scenery is both a softened place of comfort and a loud cry of freedom.
Mixing King’s soaring-yet-melodic voice with insistent guitar riffs and tropical bursts, her regular dose of R&B is infused with eighties influences. This record is here to take you to the point of absolute nostalgic surrender, as it paints a mood board of contented listening. It has the soulful sentiment of a Lianne La Havas record, the love-illusioned authority of Kate Bush passionately crying out for Heathcliff and the instant hip-flicking groove of La Roux’s Trouble in Paradise.
Opening track ‘Remind Me’ is a healthy on-brand reminder to self-love and self-care. King sings “you remind me of something… like what I’ve been missing” in her quest to rediscover the happiness of single life in the aftermath of heartbreak.
‘Look At Me Now’ backdrops a rhythmic power-stride down the street in a heated show of ‘I’m-better-off-without-you,’ but with the vulnerable undertones of unattainable validation. The line “did you see me driving with the windows down?” evokes images of King, inside a 1960s Chevrolet, with sunglasses on and the wind in her hair – a woman who has very much moved on. The line “baby, please look at me now” suggests a more desperate plea for recognition. King definitely does not need any with this record.
The aching sexual tension of ‘Forgiveness’ is slowly built up with a Springsteen-like guitar riff in a song of sinners and bad decisions. ‘Teach You’ gives a relatable lesson in the importance of looking away from your phone screen and engaging in real human interaction. Where the album begins with some punch, some of the later tracks lack the liberated spirit of the rest of the album. The conclusive ‘Go Back,’ however, revives it and gives a good suggestion to do just that – go back to the beginning and appreciate the scenery pass all over again.
Image: Rantankamus via Wikimedia Commons