Emery kick off I'm Only a Man, their third full-length, with the roar of "Rock-n-Rule," a song stung initially by sharp edges before tumbling straight into driving rock, splintered by breaks, time shifts, and plenty of dramatics. It's far removed from the group's usual sound, but strongly sets the stage for the rest of this adventurous set, which takes Emery from pop to prog and all points in-between. The irrepressible "The Party Song" falls into the former category with its infectious chorus and hook riven verses, as the band reach out to a self-destructive, self-medicating party animal. On "World Away," Emery reach back in time, resurrecting the silken pop of '80s Depeche Mode, while "The Movie Song" powers up towards melodic punk rock, with its shout-along harmonies and chorus to die for, which fits perfectly with the song's "I could die tonight for one kiss more," theme. At the other end of the spectrum comes the prog rock styled "After the Devil Beats His Wife" and "Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus," the latter paying tribute (once again) to Queen, as well as to the organ led-rock of the '70s, while the tension packed "Can't Stop the Killer" blends emo with myriad nods to the past. That latter's theme of far from happy family is one revisited several times on the set, as relationships fall apart, and the band lose themselves in an emotional labyrinth from which they can find no way out. It's all supported by a magnificent musical maze, as Emery trod down numerous stylistic alleys and byways, most magnificently on the album's epic closer "From Crib to Coffin." Across this ten-plus minute extravaganza, the band shift from the downbeat acoustic opening, across elegant piano and sweeping organ passages, and into bubbly space. I'm Only a Man is a diverse set, adventurous both emotionally and musically, yet never feels overly eclectic due to Ryan Boesch's excellent production and the band never losing sight of their core sound and vision. Emery's best yet, and an album that may prove hard to beat.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene