Emily Wells - Passenger (Partisan)

Emily Wells releases new single 'Passenger' in anticipation of her debut UK album 'Mama'. Larry Day gives it a listen for Bearded

Released Apr 29th, 2013 via Partisan / By Larry Day
Emily Wells - Passenger (Partisan) Folk/hip-hop violinist (folk-hop, anyone?) Emily Wells heralds her return to record-dom with a new single entitled ‘Passenger’. Wells is due to release her latest double disc LP Mama in the UK this June, with which the Texan string architect plans to once again tear down the typical conventions of folk, pop and hip-hop with her distinct and masterful take on the sonic arts. The release of her album follows her involvement with Clint Mansell on the soundtrack for Stoker, the recent psychological thriller featuring Nicole Kidman and directed by Park Chan-Wook.

Not to be confused with the 1977 Iggy Pop anthem, 'Passenger' is a languid, woozy cut featuring gospel organs, marching snares and haunted pizzicato. Wells' violin chops take a backseat on this track, her strings relegated to either sweeps of backing noise or complimentary plucks. Instead, it’s her voice that dominates the affair. She has golden pipes, and while her vocals are clearly strong, they retain an off-kilter etherealness that Emily Wells fans around the world will be familiar with. Precise dubstep beats (don't worry, there's no ‘wob-wob-wobbing’ here) create a relentless feel to the music – it's slow, but the pace is constant and deliberate, as the instrumentals ramp up for a climactic crescendo.

Kid Koala whips up a smoother, more heartfelt version for the single release. The strings are largely removed, and the jagged staccato violin picking is replaced with subdued synth pads and one desolate soloist. It's rawer and the reworking highlights a sense of loneliness otherwise missed in the original. Towards the end, distorted grinding sounds rush into the fray for the emotional climax and Wells’ cries of “I’m a passenger, I’m a passenger / Give me the keys, I wanna drive,” are drowned in an ocean of 65daysofstatic-lite post-rock.

It's clear from this taster that Mama is going to be a cracking record. If other offerings retain this heightened emotion and dominance, over not just her chosen instrument but all of the composition, we're going to have something truly special on our hands.