Emily Wells


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Promise -- the eighth collection of songs from Emily Wells, but only the second to appear on a label of some prominence -- trades on atmosphere as much as it does songs, unfolding as methodically as a fog settling into the early morning hours. Wells isn't naturally chilly but there is a deliberate distance that's artificially heightened, a slight icy shimmer that's warmed by the passion of Wells' voice, an instrument that warms the cold contours of her productions and hints at the emotion lurking underneath the slow melodic tow of her songs. At its heart, Promise comprises torch songs, but these aren't necessarily odes to love lost. Rather, this slow, burning aesthetic infuses Wells' work, coming to a simmer on "Falling in on It," but usually opting for a quiet menace that doesn't threaten so much as unsettle. The overwhelming stillness of Promise demands attention but ultimately rewards it: it's an album that comforts the unease that arrives in moments of solitude, whether they arrive in the dead of night or in the chill of the morning.

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