Just four days into 2012, I’m at already at a huge quandary for my very first album review I’m tackling this year- an EP for former Capitol Records artist Emily West. West had two singles released two(ish) years back before her strong freshman album was shelved permanently by the label before it was released to the public. One of those singles, a song assisted by Keith Urban called “Blue Sky,” was a hugely underrated release during her appearance on The Apprentice. The challenge? How is That Nashville Sound possibly going to justify including this (just) six-song mini-album on a list of the best projects of the year when 2012 ends?
I Hate You, I Love You is a renaissance throwback of a project that is genre-bending with its classic vocal and country blend. It couldn’t be more different from what
is pushing out these days. West’s gorgeous vocals are showcased across each track and each note is concentrated and given an importance. She reaches the ceiling with belted singing and reduces it down to a whisper on a whim- blowing the listener away at each end of the spectrum. Nashville
The songwriting is as biting as it is brilliant. “Boys in the Morning” reflects the fragility and emotional pleas found in being a good girl versus a bad girl- and what happens when you finally fall in love. It covers love lost, love given away for free and a little lust mixed in for good measure. “Dangers of Love” covers the same ground with a delivery and lyric that is delicate, raw and transparent.
“I Hate You, I Love You Again” is genius in its projection of angst of not being over the one you once loved. It perfectly captures the love/hate relationship and the lies you tell yourself to try and heal a broken heart. “Supergirl” is another break-up healing torch ballad, this one mixed with a beautiful orchestrated musical background. It contrasts the fragileness of dating and believing in the “mystical magic” of a world that’s “beautiful and tragic.” The super-heroine tries to “save the world” when she can hardly save herself. “My Story” is just that. It’s her life story and allows the listener to hear her virtual diary told in sound.
In just six songs, Emily West has delivered one of the most passionate and intimate albums in recent memory. It’s a throwback in style and sound when artists poured their hearts out through their lyrics and wore it on their sleeve. The vocals are incredible and it approaches perfection. That it’s an independently produced release is as understandable as it is remarkable. I’m not sure any major label would take a leap of faith with something so intimate. Smart. Elegant. As it is, I Hate You, I Love You is only the second album ever graced by TNS with a perfect five out of five rating.
Adele’s voice with the lyrical sense of Lee Ann Womack
Every. Single. One.
Five stars out of five