Emma Wilson is a north-east based blues singer who has been making waves over the last couple of years – which takes some doing if you think about the last couple of years for live music. Wish Her Well is her debut studio album (two EPs were released in 2020). There are ten original songs, all written or co-written by Wilson.
The trumpeter Wynton Marsalis said of the blues, “Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance. It’s about a man and a woman. So the pain and the struggle in the blues is that universal pain that comes from having your heart broken”.
You only have to read the titles of the songs – ‘Wish Her Well’, ‘Little Love Bite’, ‘She Isn’t You’ ‘Nuthin I Wouldn’t Do’ – or a snatch of the lyrics, “Are you lying in your bed with your arms round Mary Lou’ from ‘Mary Lou’ to know that this is Wilson’s territory.
With influences as diverse as Mavis Staples, Little Feat, Robert Cray and The Faces she creates a varied set of songs. To take a few: ‘Little Love Bites’ is a more haunting vocal; ‘Nuthin I Won’t Do’ funks along; ‘Rack ‘Em Up’ has built into my favourite track for its mix of sultry verse and almost Rap-Blues chorus backed by a spitting guitar; ‘She Isn’t You’ is more soulful, routing Wilson’s Aretha Franklin/Mavis Staples influences into a powerful vocal.
SO…you can see why Wilson has been making waves with her powerful vocal – and behind it a band that is instinctive and has a bloodline covering Iggy Pop, Noel Gallagher and Mark Ronson. Try the closing track, ‘Then I’m Gone’ where they manage to be both soulful in mood and staccato in their tonal support of the hurt of the vocal and lyric.
Wish Her Well is a remarkable debut CD. At the risk of being boringly techy…..I stress the CD in that sentence – I’ve played Wilson’s music on compressed format and it’s much flatter; the CD, with its fuller format captures much more spirit. Then look at/have a listen to the video of the title track, which takes it up another level in a live performance at the UK Blues Awards Ceremony, 2022. Wilson swaggers with all the style of a woman in command of her music. There’s an edge there, an artist to see live.
Wish her well, indeed.
Artist’s website: https://www.emmawilson.net
‘Wish Her Well – live: