Gentle folk with prog and Americana flavours from UK singer-songwriter Terry Emm.
‘Wish You Were Here’ is UK artist Terry Emm’s fourth release, following ‘White Butterflies’ (2009), ‘Petals Fallen Off The Sun’ (2012), and ‘Starlight’ (2014). Emm is based in Hertfordshire, the 10-track album features him on guitar and vocals, with backing vocals from Maz O’Connor, and Lukas Drinkwater (Emily Barker, Terence Blacker) on production.
The all original songs and arrangements draw on classic contemporary folk, with Emm’s gentle vocal style at their core, but with elements of prog folk and Americana catching the ear, along with the delightful backing vocals from O’Connor. ‘Another Day at the Top’ brings all these influences together, with an almost Pink Floyd-esque feel, and O’Connor’s ethereal backing vocals at their most atmospheric.
Her backing vocals are an important contribution too on ‘Morning Mist’, with Emm’s acoustic guitar work leaning toward Nick Drakes’s earlier works, while on ‘You Mean a Lot to Me’ an unsettling piano chord warns the listener of the angst-laden lyric “I/I cannot bear it/knowing that I’m not there with you/I want you all the time/for you to know that/it’s all I always wanted/to be around you”.
Lyrically Emm’s songs have a strong leaning to love and relationships, as on ‘Tongue Tied’ where he sings “There’s just something I wanna know/We’ve been more than just friends, but I always see you go/The days go by/ and I’m tongue tied/ and I don’t know why/ still I’m tongue tied”.
Opening track ‘Wish You Were Here’ builds gently to its chorus, adding keys and then lyrical electric guitar to its acoustic guitar underpinning, a song of yearning for an absent loved one “I wish you were here/I wish you were here/here now/the stars and the moon appear/the stars and the moon appear/appear now”.
‘Island Soul’ adds an unexpected but welcome calypso flavour, with a happy up-tempo feel, while the closing track ‘June’ has echoes of Syd Barrett in Emm’s vocals, returning to love as its theme, “You know it’s never too late to try again”, before another unexpected twist, to an almost Beach Boys-inspired bridge “And you can feel good/like the sun in winter/ lightening the new day/over frost covered grounds/and you can shine /like the stars above you/and no one will be there/ to tell you what to do”.
A fine album, with Emm’s varied musical influences keeping the listener engaged throughout, and with O’Connors backing vocals a constant pleasure.