Emma Hamel is a Berrien Springs, USA-based singer songwriter who turned from student to viral musician during 2020’s pandemic. Following on from the success of that song, Standing By My Side, she has released her debut album Headspace.
By Graeme Smith
Feature Photo courtesy of Emma Hamel
The album’s title gives some clue to the main theme running through Headspace, that of introspective thought, reflection and emotion. Emma opens her inner-workings up to us across the album’s eight tracks, starting with Let It Go, a piano-led meditation on the topic of self-deception. Emma’s vocals are instantly arresting – beautiful, honest and vulnerable.
It leads nicely into I Wish I Could Play The Guitar, wittily-delivered on the titular instrument. The topic in question in this track is lethargy and depression and it’s devastatingly relatable. Emma does so much with so little. It’s really quite incredible.
Track three is the album’s first single, I’m Not Here For You. It’s a haunting number, with a richer sound compared to the first two tracks, which complements the fact that it’s less introspective. Emma instead turns her focus on what seems like a toxic relationship.
After The Credits Roll feels suitably cinematic, with a return of piano and a healthy dose of drama. As I reached the album’s halfway point, I realised that Emma has created something exceptional.
Nothing Days changes up the tempo, with staccato piano opening and a vaudeville-style. Perfectly capturing the mood of the pandemic in which it was written, the track speaks of losing time during days that all feel the same. It’s followed by the short and delicate burst of frustration, Untitled.
Then it’s time for the album’s second single City Lights. With a modern folk feel to it, it paints a beautiful and rich picture of hope. It really feels like the crescendo of Emma’s emotional journey throughout the album and its warmth spreads.
Closing things is Wonderland, a gently ambient piece featuring the sound of waves lapping on a shore and a light piano melody. As the track progresses, it builds, as does the emotion and it proves to be a powerful finish for this stunning album.
I’m so glad to have discovered Emma’s music. Her honest lyrics and beautiful voice give her the quality of a star in the making. I hope you’ll agree. You can listen to Headspace below.