Emily Brown: A Fish of Earth (Song Club Records) Album Review

A Fish of Earth defies the conventions of today’s music by forgoing traditional genres and embracing the contemplative, even meditative, art of storytelling. Emily Brown, a California-based singer-songwriter, exhibits undeniable talent in her poetic and conversational lyrics that depict realities of womanhood, faith, and individualism. Definitely the most unique album I have listened to, A Fish of Earth opens the gate to a new reality of music that is offbeat and fearless!

Perhaps defined most wholly as indie-folk, the album’s most unique factor is the conversational lyrics that disregard rhyme or reason, but choose instead to follow feeling. Most traditional songs and poems are written in meter – which, for those non-English majors out there, is a rhythmic structure based on syllables. Many of Brown’s songs forgo meter which creates a less formal and more stream-of-consciousness ambience (Listen to Dread and you’ll get a better sense of what I’m talking about). This aspect, on top of Brown’s incredibly impressive vocal range, makes each song sound like a vulnerable and roaming journey. 

Let’s begin with the top of the album: Amen, Amen. In this song, Brown’s smooth, high-pitched voice blends with a sole harmonium, making them nearly indistinguishable. She questions: “Amen, Amen, are you a friend or are you a lover?” Remnants of gospel music permeate the song, which perhaps stem from Brown’s roots in the Mormon church. 

Her angelic voice captivates listeners in the following track, Baby Wanting. This brutally honest song depicts the feeling of yearning for a baby, simultaneously embracing both seriousness and humor. Brown doesn’t shy away from contradictions, as she reflects on a feeling shared by many women: “What am I gonna do with all this baby wanting? Do I think I could go through childbirth? I can’t survive my monthly cramps.” Baby Wanting is one of the most upbeat tracks and is defiant in its conversational tone. This song seems to follow an internal dialogue, yet again forgoing traditional meter and taking listeners on an emotional journey of womanhood and wanting.

Many of the tracks are rooted in intimacy, appreciation, and love for oneself and others. For example, Traipsing is a cheerful yet delicate song about searching for love, only to find it’s been close by all along. Dread, on the other hand, showcases an intimate moment and highlights a child’s innocence and intuition. They all showcase a profound artistic prowess, at times dark and gothic, at others light and frolicking. 

Each song takes listeners on a different and unique journey. A bit daunting upon first listen, if you experience this album with an open mind you will find humor, honesty, and eccentricity that are rare in pop music today. Emily Brown took poetry, infused it with color and authenticity, and turned it into music. She is an artist in every sense of the word: a poet, a storyteller, a musician, a truly talented individual. 

Listen and buy the album here.

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