Emma Louise – vs Head vs Heart album review

Imagine this – you’re in a car on an unseasonably perfect day, driving down a practically empty highway. The sun is starting to set and you’ve got the windows rolled all the way down and maybe even the sunroof open. Your skin is tingling with a confused sensation from the heat of the beams of light combined with the cool air whipping past you, rustling your hair and bringing fresh outdoor scents to your nostrils – all while a contemplative song is vibrating your eardrums.

Emma Louise’s latest album, vs Head vs Heart is a power trip. It’s the kind of soundtrack you want for your life when things are going well and you’re feeling empowered. The Australian native’s voice is mesmerizing, makes you weak in the knees, and puts a little fire in your heart. Tracks like “17 Hours” and “Stainache” showcase Louise’s control over her hauntingly beautiful vocals while mellow piano notes ping in the background and bounce off tranquil synthesizing zings.

“Jungle” is probably the most recognized track off the new record as it first appeared on her 2012 EP, Full Hearts & Empty Rooms. The pulsating synthesizer gives way to a syncopated drumming pattern and her voice peeks out in silky tones as she cries, “hey’s” building with emotion and volume, to unwrap an intense lyrical story of what seems to be the realization of the winding-down of a relationship. “Freedom” is another track that is energizing yet soothing, a bit reminiscent of what a Phoenix/Feist collaboration would sound like.

Even though “Braces” is the shortest track, it’s the one that stands out the most to me. Organ keys chime and echo in ripples of powerful thralls while Louise’s voice finds the most perfect regions amongst the busy instrumentals. I think that’s often challenging with “contemporary” artists because all too often a song can become overwhelming when too many elements are thrown together.

Her first full length album appears to be a pretty notable debut at 12 tracks in length and a little over 50 minutes the balance between ballads and upbeat songs seems appropriate. And by that I mean it’s not an album like Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever and it’s not overwhelmingly bouncy like a Phoenix record. It’s very much in the middle and easy listening. Hopefully we’ll hear a sophomore album or equal greatness in the near future from Emma Louise.

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