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The first time I heard of Emily King was in 2006. I stumbled across her music on Myspace during a time when the ease of uploading music for the world to hear opened the flood gates for ‘fast food music’ by artists who would be here today and gone tomorrow.
Among those many artists, Emily King immediately stood out as an exception with ‘Walk in My Shoes’. However, after the release of her 2007 album East Side Story, King quietly disappeared.
Now, eight years, an EP and a few tours later, Emily King has returned with her sophomore effort titled The Switch.
A Journey Through Sound
In the years since East Side Story, Emily King has completely changed her musical style. East Side Story’s sound sounded like a compromise between her and her record label, while Seven took a complete 180 in order to help Emily distance herself from her previously more mainstream image.
King’s vocal style changed as well, as her voice became more laidback and airy. This turn at bat finds King comfortable and more confident than ever before. Essentially, The Switch is her party and you’re simply welcome to attend if you so choose.
The Switch constantly switches tempos between radio friendly pop songs such as the happy-go-lucky ode to friendship ‘Good Friend’ and the upbeat yet skeptical ‘Believer’, and slower songs such as the no fake friends anthem ‘Animals’ and the acoustic ‘For Them’. However, the album moves at a pace where it can do this almost seamlessly. There is not a point where the album’s pace leaves you feeling like you’ve been shot out of a cannon or you just came to a screeching halt in traffic.
The album also takes influences from various genres of music. ‘Out of the Clouds’ has an old-school soul feel with elements of funk that will slightly remind listeners of D’Angelo’s ‘Untitled’. ‘Distance’, the album’s lead single, has a similar vibe with clear influences from the fifties and sixties. On the other end of the spectrum, ‘The Animals’ takes influences from alternative acts such as Florence + The Machine and One Republic.
Pages from a Diary
The content of the songs on The Switch follows a lot of the same themes from Seven: love, introspection and friendship. The radio-friendly and funk inspired ‘Sleepwalker’ finds Emily attracted to someone even though everything in her is telling her it’s not a good idea, while ‘Distance’ finds King talking about getting back to love after a fallout.
Some songs serve as two opposite sides of the coin. For example, the second single ‘Good Friend’ talks about the benefits of strong friendships while ‘The Animals’ finds King a little wiser and more cautious after being scarred by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Emily gets introspective on the vulnerable ‘Off Center’ and ‘For Them’. This diversity in content rounds King as a person and makes her relatable, which combined with her skills, makes her a formidable force.
The Final Word
The Switch is a short album at 36 minutes, but Emily makes sure every minute counts. She left filler material such as popular yet meaningless cover songs by the wayside in favor of authentic and meaningful content that allowed her to drop all pretense and show listeners who she is.
King left the mainstream back in 2008, went indie and took the time to figure out what worked for her, and her music is all the better for it. Let’s just hope that we won’t have to wait another nine years for another great album.