Emmy The Great

Emmy The Great

Well, turn that frown upside down, long-suffering music lovers: Emma Lee Moss is a cut above the rest. London (January 15)

It’s likely the prospect of a debut album from a new hotly-tipped female singer-songwriter has you clawing at the walls in a fit of Groundhog Day-like anguish. Which marketing category will this one fall into, you wonder? Is she an outspoken rebel who won’t let The Man keep her down (signature move: ambiguous sexuality)? Or a quirky lisping kitten of a girl in a floral dress (signature move: singing tearfully about ‘wuv’)? Well, turn that frown upside down, long-suffering music lovers: Emma Lee Moss is a cut above the rest.

The fact that tonight’s album showcase, in a shoebox of a Soho venue, contains more friends than it does Murray Hewitt lookalikes in padded jackets is the first clue that this isn’t just another case of the over-oiled hype machine clanking into action. Opener ‘24’ is a ghostly ballad that is equal parts post-heartbreak Blondie and Patti Smith after a century sipping honey and lemon. Add to this the sort of musicianship that Lady Gaga and her ilk must cry themselves to sleep over, and we’re on to a winner.

“We wrote this back in ’87 when we were hanging out with the Minutemen,” she announces with a cheeky grin before launching into a cover of Pixies’ classic ‘Where Is My Mind?’ that thankfully never once threatens to stray into sacrilege. Charming and funny, she slips effortlessly between breathless, wide-eyed anecdotes (“I went on holiday and went to a restaurant, and Edward Norton was there, and some kids pointed at him and he left. By kids, I mean me…”) and the sort of country music heart-on-sleeve lyricism that makes you think she must have seen some civil war shit.

“How can you be a pop star if your name’s Alexandra Burke?” she muses, before breaking into the Leonard Cohen-inspired single ‘First Love. “I voted for her and then thought, ‘Oh no, what have I done?’” You can’t argue with pop intuition like that. While other starlets and their Grade 1 piano skills get their five minutes, Emmy The Great’s got what it takes to endure. Hallelujah!

Rebecca Robinson