SINGLE REVIEW: Emily Mercer – ‘Gallery’

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Over a year ago I reviewed Emily’s EP ‘Transparency’, I loved it then and I still love it. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve reviewed.So when she asked me to review her new release I was somewhat thrilled.

‘Gallery’ is a big, slightly folky in places, piano-led ballad, a big soaring ballad. In some ways – like some of the songs on ‘Transparency’ – it has a feel that reminds me of songs and singers from the past but because it includes things that could only be from now, it’s better described as timeless.

Emily’s voice really takes centre stage on this track. For much of the song it’s mainly just her voice and piano. And hearing her voice again on this new song, I am again amazed by her voice. There are a lot of words in this song but her tone is wonderful, her voice has a dynamic that is fantastic. And no doubt while she’d be capable of vocal gymnastics, she sings this simply and wonderfully, It’s raw and deeply emotional.

And this is a big ballad so there has to be build, and there is. There are touches of guitar – wonderful soaring guitar – a touch of double tracked vocal, and then it takes off. And you know that swell is there to mess with your emotions but you can’t help yourself, this song gets into your soul.

‘And does this song have great words? If her voice is so upfront, it should do’ I hear you ask. Yes, this song has great words, really great words. Emily says, ‘Gallery is about a loss of control. It looks at intrusive thoughts, imposter syndrome and the uncertainty of feeling that everyone else has it sorted’. The lyrical approach she takes to this is fascinating and compelling.

This song doesn’t leap on any trends, it’s her music and her words. And that’s partially why it’s so great – It’s coming directly from her, and not filtered or warped by trying to be one thing or another. The other part of that is that she’s a really great singer, knows how to put music together and it’s played so well. It’s words and music in perfect harmony.

The more I listen to this song the more I fall in love – musically – with it. It’s beautiful.

The info

Emily’s piano-driven songs stitch together elements from folk, jazz and pop to create a distinct sound. Her style has been described as ‘A hybrid of Tori Amos and Florence + The Machine’, though she is also heavily influenced by art-pop artists such as Fiona Apple and Kate Bush, as well as by alternative artists like Weyes Blood and Cate Le Bon.

‘Gallery’ was recorded in Leeds with Mercer’s band just before the UK went into lockdown meaning vocals for the track had to be recorded remotely from Mercer’s home in Manchester. This isolated set-up resulted in a more raw, intimate vocal performance.