Emma Louise
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Emma Louise

with Thelma Plum



Emma Louise’s long-awaited debut album Vs Head Vs Heart takes the listener on a genre-defying journey of dreamy, atmospheric sounds. Having stolen the hearts of many, Emma Louise is in the midst of a massive national tour to celebrate the album’s release. Brisbane’s show at the Hi-Fi last Friday took place on a super chilly evening, but there was no keeping the fans away from the close-to-sold-out gig.

We got (extremely) lost on the way to the Hi-Fi so despite intentions to catch the whole show, we arrived during the lovely Thelma Plum’s set. Joined onstage by friend and guitarist Andrew Lowden, Thelma lit up the stage with her warm, honey-ish voice and distinctive Aussie accent breaking through into her tunes. It was really unfortunate that a big chunk of the crowd kept talking right through the set, making it really difficult to hear, particularly for those of us stuck up the back. Regardless, she put on a wonderful show and all I can really say about those who weren’t listening is that it was their loss.

Thelma’s Rosie EP is one of my favourite releases of the year thus far so it was wonderful to hear a host of the songs off it live. The hauntingly beautiful ‘King’ was a particular highlight for both me and the audience as a whole; a showcase of Thelma’s musical talents. ‘Around Here’ and ‘Father Said’ were firm crowd favourites as well, and her latest single ‘Dollar’ had the audience clapping along to its syncopated beat. The melancholy ‘Apple’ – one of those songs that make you feel sad and happy and all jumbled up inside – rounded off a delightful set that warmed the audience up perfectly for Emma Louise.

Emma Louise kicked off her set with ’17 Hours’, also the first song on Vs Head Vs Heart. It was the perfect opener; Emma Louise and bandmate Hannah Shepherd drew the audience in right away with their gorgeous, dreamy, layered harmonies. Since her 2011 breakout hit ‘Jungle’ Emma Louise’s sound has matured a lot and this was evident right from the get-go. Breaking away from the girl-and-a-guitar image, gentle electro infusions and lyrical layering create something beautiful and immersive that feels more like an experience than a sound. Her latest single ‘Mirrors’, and ‘Cages’, endearingly – but also heart-breakingly if you can believe it – written about the bird, Henry, that she was forced to give away, were equally as mesmerising, and ‘Boy’ was met with plenty of audience enthusiasm.

Emma Louise also went back to her first EP Full Hearts and Empty Rooms with a solo performance of ‘1000 Sundowns’. Triple J listeners have probably heard Emma Louise’s Like A Version cover from a few months ago of Alt-J’s ‘Tessellate’, and after hearing it live, I can say with absolutely certainty that she does the song justice. Naturally ‘Jungle’ drew huge cheers had most of the crowd singing along, but I think what stood out for me as most noteworthy/confusing about the song is that a chunk of the crowd took off right after hearing it. When people do this I get really confused because it’s a bit like you came for one song? Have you been listening to the rest of the show at all? I feel like I’m really hating on the crowd in this review but I honestly found it quite puzzling as the show was, in my opinion, magical.

Despite all that, I actually thought the final two songs were the best of the night. The second single off Vs Head Vs Heart, ‘Freedom’, was fantastic live and Emma played her encore song ‘Pontoon’ right then and there. Putting what I think we all honestly think into words, she explained that she thought the concept of going offstage for ‘fifteen seconds’ was ‘a bit funny.’ With the lights turned off, the audience encouraged to turn on the flashlights on their phones and the delicious harmonies of the final track there was no missing the brief hiatus of clapping and cheering.

Despite the frustrating audience, Emma Louise put on an incredible show, proving just why she’s on the rise. There are still a number of shows in the Vs Head Vs Heart tour to come, and I’d encourage you all not to miss this talented young songstress.
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