I’m willing to bet most of you will have been encouraged by somebody – likely a friend, relative, or spiritual acquaintance of some kind – to invest time in researching or experiencing a certain something. This could be a movie, a director, an album or artist, an author’s work. Heck, even breed of tropical fish if your friends are that obscure, I don’t know.
I’m also willing to bet you’ve put a substantial number of those friends’ commendations off, too, haven’t you?
Now why is it we do that? Is it dependent on our individual personalities and how industrious we may or may not be? Or is it because there is something of a better sense of pride when we discover a new interest on our own terms, when it suits us, perhaps? In that case how much great music do we deny ourselves through simply suspending our will to take note on the tailored recommendations of others?
I tend to blame my unpredictable listening habits, which switch without warning in a manner I can only describe as best akin to the British weathering system: shifting constantly before ever acclimatising, and never in any direction I either saw coming or that made any sense.
Deliberating on it too much is kind of pointless right now I guess. The important thing is that, on occasion, we somehow make it to that destination, as is the case now maybe eighteen months after the fact for me. Even though it’s a tad overdue I hope that, maybe after neglecting my endorsement of her music for a few indeterminate cycles of your own, you may eventually, too.
Now, funnily enough, it wasn’t actually as a result of that somebody intentionally forcing her name, music, or tote bags, down my throat that I came to be overwhelmed by Emma Ruth Rundle this past fortnight. Instead it was more by incidental association whilst I happened to be scouring the Metacritic chart. But alas, had that friend not made her aware to me previously I likely wouldn’t have hazarded the listing that much attention.
Marked for Death, Emma’s latest effort on Sargent House, is arguably more melancholic and contemplative than the first. The songs as a whole, thanks to denser production, converge to deeply immerse its listener this time round, striking right with the atmosphere you feel they were only ever intended to serve. That’s not, however, to say the songs themselves aren’t somewhat responsible for instigating this decent further into the blissful inferno; the majority feature the backing of a full band – with an appetite for stomping all aspect of life from their reverb and fuzz pedals – behind Emma’s aching minor-chord melodies and fragile, often-deprecating lyricism.
Of course being a listener already partial to now-obvious contemporaries such as Grouper, Giles Corey and Chelsea Wolfe, I loved it. What’s still bittersweet about the whole episode, though, is that I should have discovered that very verdict many months before.
Moral of the story, then: sometimes friends make great critics, too.
But only sometimes.