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Stand Still

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Album Review

Having won the first series of Sky 1's Must Be the Music, an antidote to the X-Factor, which allowed entrants to use instruments and perform their own self-penned material, 27-year-old Emma Gillespie, who records under the guise of Emma's Imagination, has received more goodwill than your usual Simon Cowell-backed talent show contestants. But while sales of her debut album, Stand Still, might not be expected to match the colossal sales of Leona Lewis and JLS, there is still a certain pressure on her D.I.Y. approach to reap more satisfying musical rewards. Just one of three acts signed to Gary Barlow's Future Records label, Gillespie is perhaps afforded the luxury of more creative control than her contemporaries. However, with producer Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, James Morrison) on board, it's clear that there have been at least a few compromises. The two tracks she performed on Must Be the Music, both of which became Top Ten singles during the series' run, appear here but are each given treatments at opposite ends of the spectrum. The haunting fragility of the original "Focus" is left untouched, with the tendency to smother its achingly beautiful melodies in layers of glossy production thankfully avoided. Unfortunately, "This Day" doesn't fare as well, with its unnecessary beats and swirling violins detracting from the original's refreshing simplicity. Luckily, its over-polished MOR sheen is largely absent from the remaining eight tracks. The chiming guitars, dubby basslines, and languid beats of "Puddy Muddle" recalls the '90s trip-hop of Morcheeba; "Brighter Greener" is a lightly strummed folk-pop number which showcases Gillespie's light Kate Walsh-esque vocals; while the twanging country-blues of "Soul of Oceans" echoes the more brooding moments of KT Tunstall's debut. Considering her success was built on her ability to write her own songs, it's disappointing that Stand Still also contains two rather pointless cover versions. They might not be the unimaginative "Unchained Melody"-style karaoke standards dumped on most X-Factor winners, but renditions of Bic Runga's "Drive" and Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's Oscar-winning duet "Falling Slowly," as respectful and competently performed as they are, offer nothing new on the originals. While Stand Still doesn't really live up to the anticipation, (it's undoubtedly more Dido than say, Laura Marling), it's still a welcome departure from the usual over-processed talent show winner debuts. On the whole, Stand Still manages to translate Gillespie's charming acoustic TV performances into a cohesive and consistently enjoyable studio album. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Oh dear

As soon as I saw this album available for pre-order I stuck my name down. Emma's voice and song writing were remarkable, I had bought all the available downloads, but I wanted to hear the result of a big budget studio and was excited at the prospect of an astonishing debut album. Well the songs are still great, and where you can hear it so is the voice, but after the first listen I'm left wondering who's idea it was to put that horrible snare drum over everything. Not only do many of the songs not require a snare (These days, track #1 especially, as it has the constant beat of the high string in the finger picking to provide a beat), but even where a snare makes sense, the snare used through out is boxy, stylistically inappropriate and incredibly proud in the mix. This results in much of the beautiful nuance of Emmas voice being obscured and for me at least, jarred so much that the album was spoilt. I can't help wondering if this was the decision of a producer looking to make Emma "more relevant" or more accessible to a demographic I clearly don't belong to, but for me what made Emma's talent and work so exciting was that she was doing something so genuine and unaffected. So sadly not the album it could have been. There are really strong, interesting songs and the voice is faultless all obscured by questionable production choices. For any one who got the spine tingles watching Emma performing "these days are mine", live, just an acoustic guitar and her voice, sensitive, personal and dynamic... I think they will be disappointed... I guess I'll have to wait for some remixes.

Support this girl please

Have been a massive fan of this girl since i first heard heard her on TV. Have waited up till midnight so i can download and enjoy her music in full through my new Bose headphones. New british talent at it's best....Late night for me tonight i think. Hope you all enjoy Emma's talent as much as i do.

Class

she has talent no doubt,better than what xfactor has produced.

10/10!!

Biography

Born: Edinburgh, Scotland

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '10s

A seasoned performer for over a decade, folk-pop singer/songwriter Emma's Imagination became an overnight success after winning the first series of Sky 1's antidote to The X Factor, Must Be the Music. Born Emma Gillespie in Edinburgh in 1983, she regularly moved across Europe while growing up, due to her father's army career. Developing a passion for music at an early age, she taught herself the guitar and piano, and began writing her own teenage angst-filled acoustic material. Encouraged by her...
Full bio
Stand Still, Emma's Imagination
View In iTunes
  • £6.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock
  • Released: 01 January 2010

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