Not enough people got their ears around Gown’s stunning 2007 release, Red State, but those who did were blown away by this little band outta nowhere and their droning and trippy folk. Gowns is gone. Their visionary frontwoman, Erika Anderson, meanwhile, is back. Listening to “California” from the debut of her new outfit, EMA, one can hear many similarities to her earlier work. First, there’s the bite. The track kicks off with the none too subtle, “Fuck California!” Anderson follows this with a heart-to-head-to-microphone recounting of the ways the state fucked her over, changed her for the worse, then, an admission of fault to those she let down in the process. Then, there’s the music. Like Gowns, the bright, shifting noise in the background softens her husky voice, but it never fully obscures her harsh reality. Those f bombs still crater and that pain is still real. Lastly, like some of Gowns best work (See “White Like Heaven,” for example) the end, this epic retelling made on a DIY budget, is bigger and badder than by any right it ought to be. Anderson has that ability, with her words and music, to make even the worst experiences, a celebration of life, itself. Who knows if all of this will lead to a more successful career. What is certain, with “California,” however, is she now has her second shot and it’s a big one.
VIDEO: EMA – California
EMA’s debut album, Past Life Martyred Saints will be out May 10th on Soutterain Transmissions.