Review : Emily Jane White - Ode To Sentience
Consequence of SoundThere’s a telling moment in “The Law”, one of the most outwardly morose songs on Emily Jane White’s second full-length album, Ode To Sentience. The singer has seen it all– “a glimpse of mortal hell,” “the dark side of the law”– but three verses in, she reveals something that shouldn’t be taken for granted in a song as interior and confessional as “The Law”, and on an album as tirelessly self-involved as Ode To Sentience. The singer reveals that there’s a “you,” that she’s actually talking to someone, or at least pretending to: “Do you dwell alone, in a room of one’s own?” she asks, in a line all too fitting for the Californian songwriter, with her remarkable penchant for gloomy one-liners....full text
The owl magOde to Sentience begins with a soaring cello, complimenting Emily Jane White’s weathered words on “Oh Katherine.” She shares her story with us as if she is a wise yet worn woman; we should learn from the woes she’s experienced. The finger-picked guitar melodies echo White’s folk classification, however, this singer-songwriter doesn’t limit herself to the confines of labels. White is fascinated by Gothic America, and she explores the darkness this encompasses on her third record.
Morbid circumstances involving death occur throughout the record. On “Black Silk,” the devil makes his rounds under a crimson moon. He kills the speaker as she cries out to her mother. White’s wickedly dark songs leave us spooked, but we’re eager to hear more about her developing stories. The devil appears again on “Requiem Waltz.” Coupled with a cracked window, a death wish, and a bad moon rising up over a hill, this waltz would fit nicely in a horror film. We think Edgar Allan Poe would have liked Ms. White....full text
PrefixGhosts are simultaneous presence and absence, a duality that’s at odds with everything about being human and absolutely captivating because of it. It’s little wonder ghosts have been adopted as a device for novelists, poets, and critical theorists alike, imbue marketing materials for every historical place, and even become a self-promotion vehicle for attention-starved bros . The otherworldly plane is supposed to be frightening, but I’ve always found it sad. If your ultimate end is to become a paralyzed shade of your former self, able to see but not react, capable of movement but unable to enact real change…what could be worse?
This particular ghostly trait plays a significant role in Emily Jane White’s ironically titled third album, Ode to Sentience. The album retains White’s affinity for doomy self-reliance, but aside from that overarching trait, Sentience is a markedly different album from her past efforts. It’s all musty corners, scratchy grey moors, cold days. Songs delve into tenuous relationships, paint pictures of bound women, and envision Satan as a dashing Novel of Manners dreamboat. It’s all lack and isolation and guttering candles and clipped wings....full text
All MusicWest coast balladeer Emily Jane White's third album, Ode to Sentience, makes its home in the place where an irresistible force meets an immovable object, and the two create a deceptive state of seeming stasis. In fact, White's songs take a microscope to the meeting point between the two, documenting the quiet but intense pressure that's being applied there. With her cool, breathy voice, White could easily just coast her way through less weighty concerns and achieve a pleasingly breezy feel, but that's not what she's after. The songs on Ode to Sentience simmer with dark feelings just barely held in check, occasionally bubbling up to the surface just long enough to make moody insinuations on the proceedings. White's measured vocal delivery betrays just the slightest tinge of melancholy, but for the most part she maintains enough distance from the subjects of her songs to get them all the way across the plate without ever descending into pathos or melodrama. ...full text
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