Emily Fairlight has a proper folk singer’s background having been, among other things, a teenage runaway adventurer in Australia and India, a circus school student, a barista and a runner turned jack-of-all-trades at a digital visual effects company. “Mother of Gloom” an elusive creature, but the prevalence of acoustic guitar and intimate sharing of lived experience point to what Fairlight self-deprecatingly calls, “doom-folk”. Her vocal style – a stark, haunting tone with a powerful vibrato, teak-hard yet soft as crushed velvet – elicits comparisons to PJ Harvey, Bridget St John, Emmylou Harris and Cat Power, musicians with distinctive voices and the lyrical power to conjure a kind of experiential realism.
“Mother of Gloom” can also stand its ground alongside the storytelling of Will Oldham and the soundscapes of Calexico. Each song is a timelessly elegant, albeit at times distressed, vignette, capturing the essence of a place, memory or feeling, framed by a varied palette musical arrangements leaving space for the imagination between the sounds. Fairlight – who currently resides in Dunedin – has been composing and performing for over a decade now.
She has played throughout NZ and Australia, and her third trip to the USA saw her record Mother of Gloom with Doug Walseth at The Cat’s Eye Studio in Austin, Texas, aided by local musicians including Cully Symington (Bright Eyes, Okkervil River) and multi-instrumentalist Kullen Fuchs. The recordings were mixed by Ben Edwards’ at his Sitting Room studios near Lyttelton harbour back home in NZ.
“Fairlight is a folk singer with a touch of the weird and wonderful, travelling the same backroads as songwriters such as Will Oldham, PJ Harvey, Karen Dalton, Cat Power, Aldous Harding and Nadia Reid. “Mother of Gloom” a warm and intimate set of songs that highlight her ability to find shadowy moods in her music and most vividly via her exceptional and haunting voice.” (Post To Wire)
“I’ve been waiting for Emily Fairlight’s album with bated breath and it hasn’t disappointed. Have a listen to “Body Below”. It’s truly economic songwriting. An emotionally complex idea delivered simply in two minutes, 30 seconds.” Marlon Williams
Emily Fairlight has released a new single – “Lips Lasso” – with a video, and hints at a new album in 2020.
“This song was written in three different houses, in three very different states of mind about the same shit situation. The video represents this internal conflict.” Fairlight explains.
“Lips Lasso” was recorded in the hills above Dunedin. In addition to Fairlight on guitar and vocals, the song features bassist Rob Collins along with Michael McLeod (The Shifting Sands, Bad Sav), violinist Alex Vaatstra and guitarist David Kilgour (The Clean).