Emma Pollock has such an assertive voice. She had it during her time in legendary Scottish indie band The Delgados, in her solo work, her time in Canadian/Scottish band The Burns Unit and when she guested on the Dry the River track Roman Candle in 2014.
Here on her first solo release in five years she sounds perhaps even bolder, as she tackles some weighty issues around the death of her mother, illness of her father and memories of her childhood.
Even the title In Search of Harperfield is deeply personal, referring to the name of her parents’ first home together. To be this open about your life and family takes the kind of courage she’s exhibited in her singing throughout her career.
But while the deeply personal lyrics are a key strength of In Search of Harperfield it is the music itself that makes this such a fine album.
Parks and Recreation is a superb single, as it looks back to a teenage turf war from 1984 between the young Pollock and her friends with miners’ children who had been given a free holiday at a nearby caravan park.
The production is bold too, full of sweeping strings on tracks such as Cannot Keep a Secret and Don’t Make Me Wait, quirky electronica on Alabaster and he folk of Clemency, where almost, just almost, Pollock turns from indie pop singer to diva.
It’s hard to fault this album so quite simply I won’t. It sounds great, the lyrics and attention to detail about family life and growing up are superb and the production perfectly shows off her vocals. Already a contender for our end of year best album list.
by Joe Lepper