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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Emmanuella Grace - London Stories

Emmanuella Grace - London Stories
2011, Emmanuella Grace

Emmanuella Grace is an Australian-born, London-based singer/songwriter who has performed all over Europe and Australia.  Classically trained, Grace studied musical theater and jazz at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane.  With appearances at Sydney Opera House, The Barbican and Royal Albert Hall, Emmanuella Grace is a seasoned performer.  Emmanuella Grace recently released her debut album, London Stories.  Produced by Snowy Raphael, London Stories will open your eyes to a brilliant young story-teller and songwriter.

London Stories opens with "Butterfly", a picture-perfect introduction in solid pop dressing.  The title is pure allegory for Grace's voice, which grows from a solid, pretty alto into a fluttery upper range.  The tune is catchy, and the piano/synth-driven pop arrangement makes for a great start.  "Kentish Town Laundry" is an intriguing look at life and decay, following the lives of those in a small suburban Laundromat.  Grace uses distinctive imagery to detail the melancholy and grace of people just trying to get by.  It's a gorgeous piece of songwriting that is both poetically and sonically pleasing.  On "Words Aren't Enough", an abusive ex is put in his place, with the narrator standing for herself and taking control.  This will be a song of significance for anyone who has ever been there.  Well written, the song is full of an honest power, carried by a melody that grabs you.

"Share The Covers" is a reconciliation waltz.  Emmanuella Grace gives her best vocal performance of the album while using strings to fill out the arrangement.  Emotive and real, there's a distinctly theatrical feel here.  It wouldn't be surprising to find "Share The Covers" licensed out to a television show or movie in the near future.  "Here Today" is a solid album track, but does get a bit too repetitive at the end.  "Upside Of Anger" is a re-evaluation done in ballad form.  Grace builds tension throughout the song, taking off into a breathy soprano range that surprises.  "Soho" is brilliant.  Grace captures the manic air of London's famed neighborhood in a song of theatrical style and temperament.  Hints of Julie McKee and Nellie McKay are evident here, and it’s abundantly clear that Grace had a lot of fun on this recording.  London Stories closes with "Cocaine", an intriguing musical monologue that seems to be written from both inside and outside the clutches of its subject.  It's an intriguing closer, from the manic implications to the flat line portrayal played out in synth tones.

Emmanuella Grace is striking both in appearance and sound, building deep impressions in listeners even through recorded media.  At the same time, there is a sense of distance, as if Grace is holding something back at times.  She sheds that air on the last two tracks, but there is the risk that Emmanuelle Grace is at times more connected to her stories than to the listeners.  This isn't detrimental, as Grace is an absolutely spell-binding story-teller.  And the personal connection thing may well be there live, but it doesn't quite translate on CD.  If Emmanuella Grace ever puts the three together, she's going to rock the world, figuratively speaking.  For now, London Stories is a very impressive debut.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Emmanuella Grace at or  London Stories is available on CD from Emmanuella Grace’s webstore.  Digital versions of the album are available from both and iTunes.

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