J Mascis proved a hard act to follow for Queensland’s Emma Louise. Okay, so I probably shouldn’t be comparing the two but you have to remember that they performed back-to-back for Sydney Festival at venues mere metres apart. As I trotted from the former with his acoustic guitar and arsenal of pedals, Louise was there with an acoustic guitar, Hannah Shepherd (from Brisbanites Charlie Mayfair) on keys and at the ready with her own sublime tunes.
The last time I saw Louise she was absolutely beguiling, entertaining an even larger group of punters at the Metro. Her songs are emotional, highly personal and raw. They suit her heartfelt and fragile vocals, which are as soft, feminine and as pleasing on the ears as Sarah Blasko’s own.
The audience bunched in as she played the sad, “Al’s Song,” one written for a friend who had gotten dumped but who kept going back like a poor puppy dog for something that clearly wasn’t all there. “Morning Eyes” was written in the wake of the Brisbane floods and saw her lilting voice coupled with a post-coital afterglow.
“Darts” followed before a number with some transcendent keys that lent the proceedings a quality much like Regina Spektor’s music. The majority of the tracks however, seemed to sit somewhere along the lines of Joni Mitchell and Missy Higgins’ music. Basically it’s a blend of timelessness and pouring your heart out to make sharp, passionate and poignant vibrations in the air.
A new song about a victim of wartime madness preceded “Flannelette Sheets” which was brimming with wide-eyed optimism and plans for the future. It was sunny but not a patch on the hauntingly, angelic “Jungle” or the sort of thing goose bumps are made out of. It was a shame that this did not continue into the closer, “1000 Sundowns”. The latter track is usually an amazing, Clapton-like ode to the love shared by Louise’s aunt and uncle who were childhood sweethearts that grew old together. But it seemed like the majority of people had their attentions diverted and were too busy talking, though it’s not apparent why this was the case.
Emma Louise is an extremely gifted songstress whose loving tunes proved a pretty accompaniment to the rustic surroundings of the Jägermeister Hunting Lodge. The performance was not up there with her best but to give her full justice you should check out one of her many YouTube videos because her music is simply wonderful. So perhaps all that’s left to do is don Molly Meldrum’s Stetson hat and leave you to, “Do yourself a favour!”