Once compared to Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Psychic TV, and Animal Collective in the same review (for 2009’s Childish Prodigy), Kurt can bring to mind anything from Suicide to Leo Kottke to My Bloody Valentine, Bob Seger, Nick Drake, and Eastern ragas. Still, he pieces together these disparate elements so seamlessly and unpretentiously that such reference points are rendered pointless by the singularity of his sound. Kurt Vile might belong to a long lineage of classic American songwriters, but he’s the only one who’s alive and in his prime today.
Emily Wells has been hailed for her multi-instrumental ambidexterity, a symphonic embroidering of swirling strings, ingenious electronics, and intricate, irresistible beats, sewn together with celestial vocals and deeply personal song-craft. Her new Mama Acoustic Recordings, out June 11th, sees the NYC-based singer/musician/producer casting it all aside, re-imagining songs first heard on 2012’s acclaimed Partisan Records debut, Mama . Where that collection was marked by Wells‘ extraordinary fusion of hip hop, experimental dance music, lyrical introspection, and classical complexity, the new album is stunningly austere, recorded solely with voice and guitar. Songs like “Dirty Sneakers” refract the singer and songwriter in a fresh light, illuminating altered emotional perspectives and melodic colors. With Mama Acoustic Recordings, Emily Wells has stripped off her own armor, leaving only her crystalline voice and equally unambiguous songwriting on display.