An artist’s duty is growth. But with growth and change comes risk. Change too much, and you can turn off your old fans. Change too little, and you, well, aren’t really doin’ your job. Local singer-songwriter Emily Wolfe finds the sweet spot between on her excellent new EP Mechanical Hands (out today).
Wolfe hit the scene last year with her debut disc Director’s Notes, a spare, beautiful acoustic record. But that record wasn’t the beginning of her story. She began playing music before she hit 10–drums first, then guitar, piano, and more.
For her new record–the first of two EPs planned for this summer–she teamed up with local producer Mike McCarthy (who’s worked with Spoon, Trail of Dead, The Heartless Bastards, and Patti Griffin, to namedrop a few). Mechanical Hands is a noticeably more rock-centered album than Director’s Notes. Electric instruments and driving drums replace the minimal arrangements.
But the yearning spirit that drove the previous work, and made it such a good listen, carries over effortlessly on the new. The new EP even contains a slightly re-worked version of “Lion Heart,” which appeared on Director’s Notes. But it’s the lead, title track, “Mechanical Hands,” that’ll really grab you by the collar. The ethereal synth line that begins the tune greets you like a sunrise. Then the pace quickens–the bass and drums pound, and a slightly crunchy, but sprightly, guitar signals this is something different, yet very familiar.