Emily Jane White Turns Up the Amps on Her Dark Sound
At the more corporate music venues around the world, it’s often the case where an opening act blows the headliner off the stage. Such is likely to happen tomorrow night, July 29 at 7 PM at the Poisson Rouge, where brooding songwriter Emily Jane White opens for Scandinavian chanteuse Eivor, who plays a distinctively minimalist take on 80s darkwave. $30 adv tix are still available as of today.
White established herself back in the zeros as a major voice in folk noir and is now taking a plunge into gothic rock with her latest album Alluvion, streaming at Bandcamp. Anton Patzner – who also produced – assembles layers of ominous keys over the guitars of “John Courage” (the name is a brand of British beer) and Nick Ott’s drums.
An icily dystopic sequencer pulse anchors the opening track, Show Me the War. With the ringing reverb guitar and distant cumulo-nimbus synth, it has a very 80s feel – and sets the stage for the rest of the album.
Track two, Crepuscule, is far less shadowy than the title would imply, with a late 80s Cure ambience that grows more dense and orchestral. Portentous low piano crashes along with the drums to introduce Heresy – “Their eyes are watching, they drank a cup of poison,” White intones. “You surrender all your hope to be somebody.” A plandemic parable maybe?
“I saw the pain fall around you…I saw murder in the background,” White reveals in Poisoned, a brisk southwestern gothic elegy. She rises to full-blown High Romantic angst, the piano against stormy symphonic synth in Body Against the Gun. She stays with the same template, with more of a distinctive 80s Cure gothic atmosphere in The Hands Above Me, a defiant antiauthoritarian anthem.
“Enduring, scarred, can’t be undone by someone,” White sings with an angst-fueled shiver in Mute Swan, over a techier ambience: this also sounds like a lockdown narrative. The sinister reverb on the guitars comes up a notch over suspense-film piano in Hold Them Alive.
“Morbid reflection, a dying art,” is the chorus tagline in the crescendoing anthem Hollow Hearth – these days, maybe not so much anymore! Although it may well predate the lockdown and be more metaphorical, I Spent the Years Frozen aptly describes the alienation that’s pervaded the world since March of 2020
The album’s final cut is Battle Call, a noir-tinged reflection on the legacy of violence in the aftermath of war. There’s plenty of validation here for anyone who’s suffered in the totalitarian takeover of the past twenty-eight months.