Oh la la, I love what I got from What Is Done In Love, the debut album from Emma Claire Gies. I will be completely honest; I saw I was getting a violin and vocalist combo and was prepared for something completely different. For anyone who may have reservations, this is not some Celtic love fest you might hear at a renaissance fair. I love the violin in all forms. Whether it be classical or jazz and then there's what Gies did here with this enchanting album. I could not possibly box in what genre is happening here. It's very experimental and I can gather that Gies is a musician that lands on her feet when put on the spot. She has a natural born gift for improvisation. I feel like she has pioneered some new sect of indie/psych fiddle and I am totally into it.
The violin as an instrument has so many voices. It can be gruff, coy, poignant and even savage. Gies uses all of these voices and then some. She knows her instrument inside and out. Outside of her signature violin she has a sampling of curious sounds and instrumental choices that bestow such a fresh edge on this album. Also the percussion elements are so indulgent, quirky and elaborate. A great example comes up on track three "Bloom." Often with fiddlers I don't get a whole lot of percussive rhythms so I welcomed this with open arms and it's DAMN GOOD. Everyone involved on the instrumental level brought an imagination to their role. It all paid off.
Obviously on a musical level I am quite smitten, but this isn't just a fiddle album. We've got this incredible voice of Gies to talk about. Her voice is raw and comes with a healthy dose of gusto. Her performance style is somewhat understated but always sharp and packing a full clip of ammo. She writes all her own lyrics and they are very organic to the music. I can't tell if the music caters to her words or it's the other way around, but those words fit so effortlessly into the music. Such a zen like balance to the give and take between the music and lyrics.
Gies is going for her master's degree at The New England Conservatory. Her dedication to her education has paid off and I think a huge part of what gives this album such a standout appeal. I imagine she could tell me things about the violin I had never known. Those who study music often have such a clear view of what has been in music that it is only natural that they would create something that would be so forward facing. This album really floored me and took me by surprise so many times. I would say this album is a vision that can take genres like folk and Americana and give them a legitimately cool vibe. Yup, I'm saying it, this is a cool album, you won't change my mind.
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