Since famously coming out with the truth behind Lance Armstrong’s infamous doping operation, soigneuse Emma O’Reilly has decided to release an EP all about purging herself of Lance and his legacy. OK, not really. This is a different Emma O’Reilly, but there must be something in the name because this is another woman with a strong voice who isn’t afraid to use it to set the record straight.
This is not an EP of totally new material. Lead track Winter was released as a single in November 2013, and given that this EP contains just three songs, it doesn’t represent a huge investment in time. In fact looking back over O’Reilly’s discography, it is two and a half years since her last EP proper, ‘iCEBERG’ (the lower case ‘i’ denoting the use of the Garage Band iPad app to record the songs). Before that you have to go back to August 2007 for the release of her ‘Tour EP’. Not the most prolific songstress then.
But this is a case of quality over quantity. The three songs on ‘Purge’ showcase a new cohesion and maturity of song-writing. As a package it makes sense and leaves you wanting more, whether that was the intention or not. On Winter the percussive rattle of the guitar strings sets the rhythm while O’Reilly tells of a broken heart, culminating in an angry coda of “Never again, now I know I have worth…. Never again, I deserve more than this”. As the cello, drums and layers of vocals join the fray, the crescendo is irresistible.
On Little Boy Blue, a soft lament is given depth by O’Reilly’s keen ear for a melody. Strings sweep along under sparse piano while O’Reilly sings of the titular boy, leaving the countryside and heading for a big city aboard a ship. The tone is such that this does not seem to be a voluntary emigration but the true story is left to the imagination.
Wolf (Part 1) suffers a bit from a lyrical clumsiness, where it is apparent that the lyrics were none too subtly chopped to fit the melody lines (“She would banish all my fears, my woes, and I’d know joy / I gave all the heart and soon became her favourite toy”). Again, her melodic prowess carries the song here until it ends in the by-now-traditional crescendo. For an EP to start to develop clear patterns after just three songs is unfortunate, but it would be unfair to O’Reilly, who is clearly a seriously talented songwriter and musician, to focus on this.
A little more variety and just a little more. That’s all we’re asking for.