REVIEW: Emily Brown’s “A Fish of Earth” is Hauntingly Challenging


Emily Brown – A Fish of Earth

What’s sad — many great singer-songwriters of the past are aging, have passed, or are no longer producing work. Emily Brown, for one, may provide listeners with hope. It’s a good feeling when we know there are young songwriters & performers who are at least trying to come up to that level that many of past performers set. It’s a high bar.

Emily will appeal to a wide-diversified audience: early career Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Julie Cruise, Laura Nyro, Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance), Amazing Blondell & Battered Ornaments. “Dread,” falls into that category.

Emily Brown (vocals) is compelling. The seriousness of her compositions, humor, voice & musical explorations – all hauntingly challenging. What makes Emily remarkable is that she’s not imitating these artists. Many songs will be for special select tastes. She isn’t entirely folky, or jazzy, but her creativity & inventiveness carries a Brecht-Weil brass tradition with somewhat classical overtones, surreal lyrics & a distinguished compositional style.

“I Get the Feeling,” is a lavish, wonderful arrangement, great performance, & for some even exciting. Emily’s vocal range is impressive, never grating or showboating. With skill, she manages to add different colors to each track & borders on Renaissance-type folky eccentricity. Mindful of Pearls Before Swine with Tom Rapp (“Frog in the Window”).

What’s amazing is her cross-breeding of intense classical motifs & folk melodies with a touch of Joni Mitchell brevity. Quite original, daring & brave. She isn’t going to immediately attract a listener who craves pop music. But a jazz buff, a classical ear, or just someone who enjoys challenging soundscapes with disparate musical phrases through varied genres – Brown is tantalizing. At times, she touches on Jane Siberry & Kate Bush.

Southern California’s Emily Brown’s 11-cut A Fish of Earth (drops Oct 23 – Song Club Records) includes “Traipsing,” a startling-Laura Nyro-like tone — orchestrated for a Middle Ages performance. Possesses a bright upbeat infectious arrangement. “Game Show,” is the most accessible tune. Beautifully recorded.

Utah musicians: Patrick Campbell (drum taps), Madelyn Brown (sang), Sophie Blair (viola), Nicolas Ayala(flute), Lucas Deal (clarinet/bass clarinet), Emma Hardyman (some high pitch vocals), Logan Hone banjo/alto sax), Gavin Ryan (vibraphone/xylophone with soft mallets/stringed bows), Max Olivier (cello), Dylan Schorer (pedal steel), Jasmine Stack (sang/harmonious), Megumi Terry (violin), Ben Swisher (bass clarinet).

Producers — Bly Wallentine (vocals/clarinet/cornet/flute/guitar/piano/drum/recorder/strummed instruments), & Stuart Wheeler (vocals/organ/guitar/trombone/drum/strummed & tapped instruments). The 45-minute CD is available at

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