Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Shocking Miss Emerald [music]

The cover of The Shocking Miss Emerald by Caro Emerald
Ah, so late to the party on this one – but if I missed it, you might have missed it too. A couple of years ago when this album by Dutch jazz singer Caro Emerald came out, loads of bloggers raved about it and I wasn't convinced by the hype. One of Mr Robot's workmates lent it to him recently saying, “I think you'll like this, it's kind of bluesy.” Well, it wasn't bluesy but we both do like it.

Caro Emerald has a beautiful voice, simultaneously note-accurate and yet full of personality. A classic jazz voice, in other words. The songs are definitely modern. In many ways she reminds me of Amy Winehouse, though her voice is not like Amy's at all and her lyrics are more playful, less raw. It's just that amalgamation of vintage and modern. 'Liquid Lunch' may well be the best hangover song I've ever heard, while 'Coming Back as a Man' presents one way to crash through the glass ceiling. My favourite, though, is 'Pack Up The Louie', which is an earworm par excellence – after David Bowie passed away I had 'Ziggy Stardust' on the brain for ages, but 'Pack Up The Louie' kicked it out.

I'm not sure if 'The Shocking Miss Emerald' is classed as electroswing. If it is, it definitely balances more on the swing side than the electro, which is fine by me, as when I saw Caravan Palace live in Bath the electro-heavy stuff was what I liked least. In 'The Shocking Miss Emerald' there are bursts of gypsy guitar, trumpets, violins and clarinet, tango and swing rhythms, plus all sorts of pops and growls and scratches that I associate with modern music, though not being up on that sort of thing I couldn't begin to tell you what sort of 'beats' they are.

I'd really like to see Caro Emerald live off the back of this. It sounds like the sort of thing you'd want to hear in a modern, retro-styled nightclub, somewhere where you'd see ladies with pink hair and tattoos wearing 1930s satins, or well-suited chaps with natty moustaches and a dozen earrings. And that can hardly be a bad thing.

So, have you heard this album? And if you liked it, can you recommend me anything like it? (Aside from Caro's first album, that is.) My ears want something new!

15 comments :

  1. I love Caro Emerald and like you my favourite off this album is definitely Pack Up The Louie. It makes me think of going cruising during the 1930s. Oh heaven! However, I much prefer her first album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor as it has a much less produced feel to it. I'd love to see her live too, I bet it would be a really fun gig.

    Have you heard any of my personal favourite Hailey Tuck? She's very different to Caro but has a real early jazz feel about her music. I went to see her a couple of years ago and she was absolutely brilliant. I adore her version of La Vie En Rose on her Sad Cafe EP. Actually the whole EP is just gorgeous. x

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    1. Annoyingly, Amazon don't seem to sell it as a CD, only a download. I shall see if I can find her in HMV!

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  2. Another fan here - I have both of Caro Emerald's albums after first hearing her on Radio 2 a few years ago. I actually bought the deluxe version of The Shocking Miss Emerald (ooh get me!) with extra live tracks recorded at a Glasgow gig, but that was a big event and I agree that she would probably sound even better in a more intimate environment.

    Another similar artist I'd recommend is Miss 600 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWZBAqPw6p4) although she seems to have gone quiet in the last year so I don't know if she's still active. If you like a bit more gypsy swing then Swingrowers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jy8pK7tTzg might be worth a listen too, although they can still venture more towards the electro side of things sometimes.

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    1. Ooh, you and your posh purchases ;-)

      I've added Miss 600 to my list, as that looks jolly interesting. At worst, it'll be a new thing that I don't like - which is better than being bored!

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  3. I haven't heard this album, and am not sure why not! One to add to my listen list xx

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    1. Now I've finally heard it, I'm wondering why it took me so long!

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  4. I'm even later, I've never heard of her. I'll have to give her a play on You Tube although I'm more Radio One than retro.
    I love the album sleeve, that hat is gorgeous! xxx

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    1. I suspect it won't be your sort of thing, though it is not twee, at least.

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  5. Hi Mim! Paperdoll here, I have both of Caros' albums, and have seen her live twice now....what an amazing performer, fabulous band and a great show, and we're looking forward to seeing her again next time she's on tour in the UK. I describe her sound as 'Modern Jazz'.

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    1. Hi Paperdoll! Ooh, I am envious at you having seen her - I kicked myself when I discovered she'd toured late last year.

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  6. Oh I think she is great, a work colleague introduced me to her a while back now, and I must admit was hesitant at first as his musical stylings are limited to eric clapton and santana or bands that sound similar to the the above (not that there is anything wrong with that in moderation!) but once I gave it a listen I was hooked!
    Oh and I can second Cates recommendation for Hailey Tuck, I stumbled upon her on YouTube a few years back, and I was struck by her voice which is so rich and melancholic and perfectly 20's in style!

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    1. Argh. Drat Amazon and its download-only Hailey Tuck. Mr Robot and I have been unable to make our iTunes work across all our Macs, so one has the CDs on and the other has the downloads, which is really frustrating - and as we have many more CDs, we never bother with downloads.

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  7. I really like her voice and enjoyed her first album so I'm not at all sure why I don't have this one! Better sort that out!

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    1. It is a great voice, isn't it? Note-perfect but not at all bland.

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  8. New to me too. I'm not very good at keeping up with music, but will have to listen if I remember as it sounds like she's good. Xxx

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