Emily and the Woods at Broadcast, 2/4/14

“You said ‘oh I’m pleased’, when I said ‘things have changed for me’/ but you were lying through your teeth”

Loss and the haunting, lingering feeling of distance’s uncertainty are themes in Emily and the Woods’ work.

The four-piece are fronted by Emily Wood and complemented by the delicately effected rhythm guitar of Benedict Wood (he and Emily are siblings), the disarming funk of Sam Brown’s bass and subtle drums of Dave Bush.

The band meander softly through their set, their course broken occasionally by some bold riffs- expressions of passion amid what is a dramatically reserved style.

The crowd is small but enraptured, and Emily pulls focus with her diminutive patter; this is a band whose completeness is something to behold.

The size of the crowd is surprising, the band has been playing together for years and have several EPs to their name, a cursory listen is enough to acquaint you with their style, in the vein of other bands and singer-songwriters that could be mentioned here but there’s another dimension, between Emily’s restraint and the band’s occasional bursts into bold musical territory, which sets them apart; it would be great to hear an album at some point.

The lyrics are as considered as the rest of the music, but without the effete, commercially-viable self-consciousness that renders ‘singer-songwriter’ a backhanded compliment: “We’ll get in my boat, we’ll sail away, I’ve always been scared, scared of this here/I give you some string, and you find your way home, and I will be waiting when you return/I can’t steal his heart, but I can steal back mine”.

That trepidation is everywhere, tempered by a self-confidence playing against a world that we can’t assume will provide the writer the object of their affections, the songs are about the uncertainty of love, its tenuous state and carried by softly-spoken, if determined, assertions of self.

When listening to the band’s work after the event there’s something that doesn’t translate, their live performance is so captivating it can’t be missed.

They’re touring now, and if you get the chance you should go to see them, if only to lose yourself for 45 minutes on a wet spring evening in Glasgow.

Words/photos: Simon Jones

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