Metric frontwoman Emily Haines received a fair amount of critical acclaim after the release of her 2006 solo debut, Knives Don't Have Your Back, in which she eschewed the rockier guitars and occasional electronic elements for softer piano and keyboard songs backed by soft drums and sporadic string arrangements. The EP, What Is Free to a Good Home?, follows this trend, as it was recorded at the same time as her full-length, containing five songs that didn't make the final cut, as well as a dub-inspired remix of "Mostly Waving." There's really no reason why these tracks didn't end up on the full-length, as they showcase the same lyrical and harmonic strengths that Haines previously displayed, her Jenny Lewis-ish quaver a perfect accompaniment to her exhaled thoughts. Both "The Bank," a very Elliott Smith-like piece, double-tracked vocals and all ("Whatever it is, spit it into a bottle and sell it to me/I'm looking to buy freedom for my sobriety" she sings) and "Rowboat" mix shimmering horns with Haines' confessional words, and even "Sprig," in which she sets the words of her father, Paul Haines, to music, while more experimental in nature, flows nicely: it's experimental without being obsolete. What Is Free to a Good Home? (also the title of one of the elder's poems) is strong enough to convince listeners of the singer's abilities even if they're not familiar with any of her other work, and for those who are, it just adds to her increasingly noteworthy repertoire.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown