I’ve fell in love with Emily King‘s music when her 2011 EP Seven dropped that spring. It was like eating a home cooked meal after fasting for 40 days. I hadn’t heard that combination of songwriting, groove and originality ever. It was completely fresh in a pretty stale RnB landscape.
I got to see her perform in DC in December 2012 and even had the audacity to ask to sing background for her. She thought I was kidding at first, but after seeing how serious I actually was, she was gracious enough to suggest that I send her some of my material through email and see what came of it. Like…she didn’t laugh me off or try and dismiss me, which is what I would expect from an artist of her stature; she acknowledged it fully after having spoken with most of the crowd who waited in line to talk to her after her performance.
There is a contemporary African-American proverb that comes to mind when I think of Emily King: “Real recognize real.”
She’s easily the most genuine performing artist I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and that reality is radiant in her song Sleepwalker.
Watching the Youtube video she posted, I got thrown right into her live show. Less than 10 seconds in, I felt like I had been there the whole time. I was nodding and swinging my shoulders before I knew it. I won’t apologize if this sounds over-romanticized to you. You’ll have your own experience in a moment, here:
Sleepwalker is an intoxicating groove that you just have to dance to. Jeremy Most (guitarist as well as co-writer on Seven and in her live performances) delivers tasteful accompaniment to her music and is as much a part of King’s established sound as she is. It’s fun and charming but the lyrics always have depth:
I think I might be going crazy now/
someone stop me!/
I got to lock the door to keep me in/
don’t have a key/
I feel the cold air, I feel the dirt/
under my toes/
something tells me that I’m far away/
and I’m not alone/
Oh I feel my body/
move without me again/
oh, like a sleepwalker/
getting closer to him/
I gotta hold you!
King is an artist I look up to. She has conviction and resolve about how she wants to make her art, and her truthfulness to the point has (in my estimation) taken her where she is today. She released an album under J Records in 2007 entitled East Side Story and was even nominated for a Grammy. In 2008, she went indie for reasons not explicitly spelled out, but my gut tells me that she wanted to flex creatively. It’s not that East Side Story isn’t good (It’s actually dope, and she still performs two singles from it regularly) but Seven proved to be a different animal, being so well received and critically acclaimed that she is still touring now.
Good music may have suffered in some respects due to the industrialization of music, but Emily King will not be soon forgotten, because it’s rich, full and real.
and “real recognize real.”
Check her out at http://www.emilykingmusic.com