A Journal Of The Dark Arts
On Relic, Emma Tricca combines Nick Drake pastoralism with ghostly flourishes of classic album making.
Emma Tricca is an anomaly. On one hand, she is as pure folk as they come, encouraged by the likes of Odetta and John Renbourn to pursue her craft, writing sparse, bare-boned acoustic sketches of the world that she was living in. Unlike the first (or even second wave) of American folk artists, Tricca did not grow up in the Appalachians or the Ozarks or even a village, for that matter. Instead, she split her time between London and Rome, and her gentle folks song are influenced by “Giallo Comic books, whistling Morricone film scores, vibrant religious imagery and expensive furniture design”, as well as naturalistic influences like the sound of bells, tolling on the breeze, or the play of light and shadow on a hillside or a living room wall.
Superficially, Emma Tricca’s music resembled the like of Vashti Bunyan, like some gypsy troubadour, transplanted from 1796 in a wooden-shingled caravan. While i have a great fondness for Ms. Bunyan, and every other purveyor of the folk tradition for the most part, Tricca’s music is an update and an adaptation on those rustic roots, as you might guess from the fact that Relic is out on Bird Records, the female-fronted subsidiary of British obscureniks Finders Keepers Records. FKR & Devon Folklore affiliate Sam McLoughlin, of Sam And The Plants and N. Racker, who supplies “some Northern rural radiophonics to this ROMANtic relic.”
It is in these flourishes that Relic reveals itself for what it is, what it could be, and how it deserves to be perceived, with thin slivers of mercurial organ, like on album opener “Golden Chimes (intro)”, to the lush, Disney-esque stacked vocal harmonies of “Sunday Reverie”, my personal favorite, a timeless classic that is like walking around the insides of a Swiss clock on a village green.
Relic is rife with vibes, quite literally. Mallet instruments abound on the record, as do wheezing organs, thin buzzing electric pianos, horns, and the occasional string section. These are mere textures and shading, to add shadow and depth to Tricca’s clean, precise, bell-like guitar playing and weatherbeaten voice, that are Relic‘s true centerpiece.
The production on Relic is magnificent. Emma Tricca has created a truly ageless classic. She is using technology to accentuate the natural, with modern precision meeting classic sensibilities. Relic is an exercise in restraint, a model of good taste.
For those that feel that Joe Boyd’s heavy-handed production on the first couple of Nick Drake records, Relic provides an alternative, an alternate timeline to explore. Also, for fans of Jane Weaver’s Watchbird Alluminate, which Tricca was involved with, and bears a great sonic similarity, you will find much to love.
And mostly, Relic is a folk song for people that get down with tradition AND horror comics, Italian soundtracks and mandolins. Explore the slipstream, and exercise good taste!
Very much recommended!
Emma Tricca: Relic