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Little Daggers

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Album Review

On Little Daggers, Val Emmich carefully crafts a disingenuous album that's light and frothy, a poppy confection that sugarcoats the hard nut themes within. The entire album revolves around life and love, and never more cutting than on "Got a Habit Now" which is not about addiction, but the need for alcohol to lubricate the truth and ease out emotions one would prefer not to lay bare. That song is one of the most dow-tempo and introspective on the set, but even it has a bounce to its beat and a hook to its melody. "The Lucky Ones" and "Get on with It," in contrast, are irrepressibly chirpy, all thumping rhythm and singalong choruses. Thematically, though, the two songs are polar opposites, the former sitting in its cynicism waiting for fortune to change, the latter exuberantly diving straight into everything life has to offer. The rest of the set falls between these musical opposites, as Emmich dips down into indie folk, breezes into Americana — the jaunty harmonica on "We Still Bleed" is a perfect touch — and in a blur of acoustic guitars takes a stab at folk-punk on "Down." That almost moody latter track pushes towards the grandiose, but still sports a simplicity of sound that is the fulcrum of the set. But that too hides a secret, an arrangement much more complex than it initially seems, and for all its minimalistic feel, there's more going on than originally meets the ear. Which is the beauty of this set; perfect pop for discerning people, and lyrics honed with emotional truth.


Born: 1979 in Manalapan, NJ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Rock singer/songwriter Val Emmich was raised in Manalapan, NJ, and took up the guitar after he was diagnosed with Lyme Disease at the age of 15 and was forced to curtail his physical activities. Soon, he was writing his own songs. He attended Rutgers University, and after graduating turned to music full-time, releasing his first EP, The 15-Minute Relationship, in the summer of 2001 without the benefit of a record contract. He then turned to producer Wayne Dorell (who has worked with Tonic, Yo La...
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Little Daggers, Val Emmich
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