Record Review: Brandi Emma

Brandi Emma
Photographic Memory EP
Los Angeles, CA

Produced, recorded, mixed & engineered by Tom Livemore // Mastered by Thomas Schoebel

If Brandi Emma’s 2006 debut Swim would fall under pop-folk, her follow up has stripped down (musically) just enough to spin that label around on its hyphen: folk-pop.  Clocking in under 15 minutes, Photographic Memory is a brief listen, but the standout tracks are well worth your time. While the themes from Swim have remained the same: love, loss, and their poetic mess – the music has not.  It’s not an overhaul, but Memory has a more stripped down, acoustic tone than its predecessor.

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While that tone may be indebted to the confessional singer-songwriters of her California home, the music itself is dreamier, and entirely modern.  Though sparse, the accompaniment is consistently interesting: three piano key tickles here, a brief, light harmonica texture there.

For a heartache album, Emma’s voice is sometimes too sweet, in a cute-coffee-shop way, to pull off the emotional urgency of her lyrics.  She’s at her best when she uses that sweetness to her advantage as in the bouncy, toe-tapping “Happy.”  Now, that’s not to say she can’t make it work; she sounds brilliantly mournful on the exceptional breakup ballad, “Let it Go.” If she can hit those marks consistently, Brandi Emma should be around for a long while. (Emma Phonics Music)

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