Emily Ritz’s debut solo album Pattern Recess is a soul-baring introduction to the New York singer, whose rich, expansive vocal guides an album forged from a left-field collection of ideas. Her disability – Lyme-related arthritis – informs the darker reaches of her sound; the darkness of the intensely personal devastation she feels is deftly matched with the soothing balm of musical creativity.
Ritz does not shy from pulling together incongruous elements in the formation of her songs. The influence of more classic genres – in particular jazz – is tangible, even amongst the reverb shrouding her meticulous guitar lines. Her vocal is hard to pin down; again informed by distant greats, but nonetheless modern and entirely individual. Tracks like the laid-back “Ca” allow space for languid, summery delivery, whilst diligent precision gives “Great Dunes” a more urgent feel.
Pattern Recess is the product of a thoroughly intellectual artist left free to play; throwing all her out-there ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. “Adorned + Perfumed” employs an unexpected time signature and utterly alien vocal distortion, without sacrificing enjoyment or ease of listening. It’s no mean feat, and the unearthly results feel different from anything already out there.
It’s hard to pin Emily Ritz’s work to the “if you like [x], you’ll love this!” format without feeling you’re doing it a disservice. As mentioned before, jazz influences provide a hedonistic undercurrent, but there’s a pulse of acoustic rock, the emotions of the best kind of R&B, and electronic effects more akin to boundary-pushing electro-pop artists than any of the aforementioned genres. It’s this melting pot of ideas that makes Pattern Recess such an eclectic listen, both sonically and lyrically. From the staccato guitars of “Spiral Higher” to the understated, percussive “Heart Haunt”, Emily Ritz delivers a debut that will enchant and delight you in equal measure.