Must Be The Music winner Emma Gillespie won over judges and audiences in the supposed anti-X Factor with her heartfelt lyrics and pleasant vocals. The difference between her and Alexandra Burke et al is that she has been writing her own music for over 10 years and travelled the world to hone her craft as a songwriter/performer. A quickly executed album to capture the hype from the TV model of bringing music to the masses called Stand Still is her debut on a major label.
The result is a highly polished and produced album that doesn’t deviate much from the Dido model. Opener This Day is a catchy summery tune, demonstrating competent vocals and boosted with strong radio friendly string arrangements by KT Tunstall’s producer, Martin Terefe. The formula of pretty vocals, light instrumentation and catchy inoffensiveness continues, but has a few standout tracks in Puddy Muddle, enlisting a more Portishead-type influence in terms of offbeat rhythms and darker organ sounds. Daisy Train is very Mumford and Sons, and livens things up towards the end of the album.
Including 2 cover versions in her debut reveals the rushed element of the release, with a nicely executed version of Bic Runga’s Drive. However her version of Falling Slowly from Oscar winning indie flick Once is disappointing, as it’s missing all the sincerity and passion of the original. It’s nicely sung but cheesy keyboard sounds make it sound more like a Disney theme than a postmodern love song.
Emma is clearly talented however the cheese-fest production was perhaps not the best choice for her material. She may not be affiliated with the X Factor however this release is borderline with what Simon Cowell and his ilk may release for the ‘quirkier artist’. A somewhat rawer, more honest follow up would bring more credibility to an artist with huge potential.