Emma-Lee Moss has come a long way since her first release back in 2006. Recording under the name Emmy The Great, Moss began writing and releasing folk influenced confessionals and quickly collaborated with the stalwarts of the burgeoning mid-2000’s folk scene such as Johnny Flynn and Noah and the Whale. What followed were two albums: the stripped back First Love followed by the more ambitious Virtue, each showing Moss’ willingness to push the experimentation and production of her music further. And it seems that her new S EP is a considerable stride forward.
Opening track “Swimming Pool” showcases much of the polished production explored on her second album, only this track takes it up several levels. The swirling synths eddy in the distance and the flange of guitar lends the track an immersive quality it's hard to escape from. Moss' lyrics are, as ever, at the forefront as she reflects on her own balances of emotion in light of what is, quite possibly, a short lived holiday romance. It's a shimmering track that is at once melancholic and optimistic.
“Social Halo” is the track that sits closest to Moss' folky roots as the guitar line and direct storytelling lyricism (a realisation you may be losing relevance among your circle of friends) could come across just as well with only a voice and guitar, the primary style deployed in Moss' early songs. On S, however, the track has been furnished with a lush arrangement of ringing, overdriven guitars and chimes. It could all get a bit too saccharine if it weren't for Moss’ humorously glib lyrics that make it clear she isn't taking herself too seriously. “Solar Panels” is by far the most experimental track on S, awash with thumping beats and a synth loop that instils a surprising Europop aesthetic to the track. It's the kind of track you could imagine emerging from a collaboration between Avicii and Kate Nash.
Closer “Somerset” shows off Moss' bookishness and is probably the only song this side of the year 2000 to name-check Somerset Maugham. But the ballad rushes with sardonic charm and a heft of personality without straying into pretentiousness, which could so easily be the case with a song dealing with the end of a relationship told though the greats of 20th century literature.
The four tracks that make up S are infectious and delivered with a well placed tongue-in-cheek, and each one certainly feels like an exercise in Moss' own musical exploration. It's going to be interesting to see where she goes next.