Emma Wilson, like many other emerging artists, was just getting into her stride, making a name for herself and starting to get regular gigs when Covid struck.
Emma freely admits how much she misses gigs , but has been hard at work honing her skills and writing material for her next album, Siren, which should be out later this year. In the meantime she has somehow managed to bring out a lovely EP on the theme of relationships and missing home and affection. Emma puts it quite succinctly, “This year has made me reflect on life’s complex human relationships and how precious they are”. The EP shows Emma at her crystal clear best, with some extremely chilled keyboard support from the very talented Dean Stockdale. The opening track, Won’t Be Long, was a hit for Aretha Franklin, one of Emma’s favourite artists. The dramatic piano intro sets the tone for the track; a boogie style blues song about a missed and loved one coming home and all that entails. Emma really does justice to this classic track. Next up is the song I Needed Somebody by Ann Peebles, who is also on Emma’s list of favourite soul singers. It’s a really powerful, but sad song about being alone in the big city. Emma’s soulful vocals are beautifully enhanced by the understated piano. At the start of the next track, the unmistakeable first notes of Border Song are instantly recognizable and conjure up the spirit of the Elton John & Bernie Taupin number to perfection. The song was also recorded as a duet by Aretha and Elton on Aretha’s 1993 Album Duets.
The original version on the eponymous Elton John album also had vocals from another great soul singer, Madeline Bell of Blue Mink fame. The song again deals with being away from home and where you really belong, a feeling that is probably felt by so many in the present climate; Emma has managed to capture this sentiment so well throughout the EP. The final track Need Your Love So Bad immediately brings to mind the sublime version by Peter Green, but, as I just discovered, his too was a cover of the original by Little Willie John, first released in 1955. Emma has created a great version of her own. The sultry, echoey vocals and clarity of lyrics and sentiment are typical of her “soul from the heart style” and will hopefully make this one for inclusion in any future live sets that Emma puts together.
Here’s hoping that’s not too long off! This is a fine compilation of classic tunes by Emma Wilson, updated to be meaningfully relevant to our extremely strange times.