19 Oct 2021
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Emily Rice - EP Review: Auhua

06 May 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Over the last few months Emily Rice has been building up to the release of this EP, and of the six songs included on Auaha (which means to shape, create, form, fashion), four have already been released as singles, and I have reviewed three of them myself, so the EP feels already very much like an old friend, but for anyone yet to come across Emily and her work then this is a wonderful place to start. I first came across Emily and her husband in the wonderful folk duo Aro, but here her music is far more dance oriented as she brings in lots of different styles such as soft jazz, RnB, dub, and even a little touch of folk, but always with her wonderful vocals front and centre. Emily has a beautiful clean style that is never forced, always pure and clean, so no matter what is happening with the instrumentation it is always grounded.

For someone like myself who tends to avoid many of the musical styles she is utilising, as to be honest I am simply not a fan of those genres, the result is quite a revelation. It is the way she combines these elements with her voice that makes them so compelling, so that the worn-out piano on Playing Darts becomes a thing of beauty, with delicate horns assisting in making it special, while she harmonises with herself, layering her clear and emotional vocals on top. This is slow and comforting, wrapping the listener in a blanket that is quite removed from the more overtly dance-driven Careless.

It is the last two songs on the EP which for me are the standout numbers. Red and Blue contains the  multi-layered vocals I have come to expect with Emily, but here there is also a complex arrangement with real instruments, plus finger clicks. This all makes it feel less electronic than the others, and although it is still firmly in the soft jazz/RnB style, as always it is her wonderful vocals that takes this through. I can imagine this being sung by her and Charles, just with an acoustic guitar for accompaniment, but here it has been made much richer with some delicate basslines and some gentle chords from the electric guitar. Kanohi ki te Kanohi is the last song, and can be translated as “face to face, or in person”. Here she brings together all the different elements of the EP, plus Te Reo, and with her multi-layered harmonies it is almost as if she is taking the style of Aro as a basis and moving it in a very different direction indeed.

The six songs are all worth discovering individually, but as an EP this set should be in the collection of every lover of wonderful vocals and songs, whatever the style.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Emily Rice

Emily Rice is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Tamaki Makaurau. Twice finalist of songwriter of the year while studying at pop music school, Emily has gone on to release three EP’s of music since 2012, live and perform across Europe, collaborate with countless fellow musicians and is one half of a two time Silver Scrolls finalist bilingual duo Aro.

Emily’s songs have evolved with each new project, moving through different styles and always integrating vocal looping, sprinkles of jazz and a touch of saxophone.

Her new sound is best described as chill DnB/RnB-pop and she’s releasing her new EP Auaha; a compilation of songs she wrote during Aotearoa’s level 4 lockdown in April 2020 in early 2021.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Emily Rice

Releases

Auaha
Year: 2021
Type: EP
Dusk
Year: 2019
Type: EP
A Little Salt
Year: 2016
Type: EP
Find Me Here
Year: 2015
Type: EP

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