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The Law of Large Numbers

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Album Review

Ex-Delgados vocalist Emma Pollock's excellent 2007 solo debut, Watch the Fireworks, helped curb the hunger pangs felt by many fans after the beloved Scottish indie rockers called it quits in 2004. Hardly a dressed-down Delgados record, it utilized the best elements from the band while upping the hook factor and introducing some much-needed sunlight into the mix. Pollock, who wields a wily pen and an agreeable croon that falls somewhere between Chrissie Hynde and Aimee Mann, crafted another winner with 2010's Law of Large Numbers. Like Fireworks, it's a diary of serpentine melodies, metaphors, and styles that's seamed and stitched together by economical production and Pollock's easy delivery. It operates in a sparser, wearier landscape than its predecessor (which will please some hardcore Delgados fans), but through the smoky decay of pensive cuts like "Chemistry Will Find Me" and "The Loop," rise a small army of glorious pop nuggets ("Hug the Harbour," "Confessions") and lovely, austere, modern folk songs ("The Child in Me," "House on the Hill") that distance Pollock from her previous incarnation without sacrificing any of the gifts that brought her to the here and now. Law of Large Numbers won't sneak up and hit you over the head, but it will sneak up on you. Singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen and well-stocked, but in their numbers the great ones shine brighter.

Customer Reviews

Emma Pollock emerges beautifully from the long shadow cast by The Delgados

I promised i wouldn't spend too much time chatting about Emma Pollock & Alun Woodruff's majestic former band, but listening to "The Law of Large Numbers" this morning reminded me of when I first got hooked on The Delgados (an admitted latecomer - they disbanded the very same year of my fanatical discovery! boohoo) and was struck by the last line in AllMusic's review of their 1997 debut album "Domestiques": "every band should be forced to study The Delgados' discography before starting out."

I wasn't crazy about Emma's much anticipated (by me at least) solo debut "Watch The Fireworks," perhaps as much due to the disappointment of a faster paced album version of the achingly melancholy song Fortune I formerly heard as a demo (echoing like a fitting Delgados epilogue) as anything else. But on "Watch The Fireworks" it did sound to me as though Emma was trying (the 'effort' apparent) to find her way as a distinct artist separate from her Delgados past and the results were uneven.

Quite the contrary on the instantly classic "The Law of Large Numbers," where Emma has most definitely found her own 'voice.' Having only listened to the album a row...before I felt an overwhelming compulsion to spread the word (IT IS THAT GREAT!!!), I'm not in a position to give an in-depth critique here. I'll just say that after two spins I feel Emma Pollock's "The Law of Large Numbers" stands up to anything in the Delgados' catalogue - with a caveat. Nothing in all fairness will ever compare to either Emma & Alun's collaborative work or the creative influence they had upon each other - they were one of the finest bands Great Britain has ever produced. Yet based on the stunning artistic leap Emma Pollock has taken with her wonderful and wholly unique sophomore release I have no doubt that one day music critics will be singing similarly high praises to Emma's body of solo work as well.

Elegant and Intriguing

Emma has surely defined herself as a solo artist with this album, a considerable step up from "Watch the Fireworks." I Could Be a Saint and Letters to Strangers stand out as the more solid tunes on the album, but everything the album contains is a success, and The Law of Large Numbers flows beautifully. You can sense the passion Pollock poured into each line of lyrics.

Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

amazing as usual....

emma is an amazing songwriter. she has perfected a complexity married with soulful beauty. a++++


Born: Scotland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A founding member of dreamy Scotland alternative rock group the Delgados, singer/songwriter/guitarist Emma Pollock signed to 4AD Records in 2005 after the band's amicable dissolution. Pollock utilized the formidable talents of former Delgados drummer and husband Paul Savage, keyboardist Jamie Savage, and Aereogramme bass player Campbell McNeil for her solo debut, Watch the Fireworks, which was released in September 2007. Her sophomore effort, the textured and experimental The Law of Large Numbers,...
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The Law of Large Numbers, Emma Pollock
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