by Tom Welsh
Emily Mercer is a Manchester-based, Suffolk-raised songwriter whose theatrical-styled songcraft on 2019 EP Transparency attracted comparisons to such luminaries as Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple. With latest stand-alone single, Gallery, Mercer continues in a similar manner and delivers a shape-shifting, jazz-leaning song that by that description should not be the irresistible earworm that it is.
But that is the beauty of Mercer’s music. Her deeply rich, cut-glass vocals immediately demand attention, and her approach is both virtuosic and versed in pop perfection. The track builds from its beautifully restrained beginnings to a thrilling crescendo that ticks all the boxes, but there is also a subtlety to its craft that sets it apart. The song anchors with its refrain – ‘step into my gallery’ – the hushed invitation drawing you closer before the band crashes in to guide you through shifting rhythms and moments of soaring majesty.
The lyrics speak of the struggles of keeping pace with peers and the oft-skewed perception of your own place amongst them, all delivered in Mercer’s characterful style that draws the most from every word. Acknowledging self-perceived shortcomings through the imagery of art – complete with the behind-the-curtain nod to ‘a little artistic license’ – Mercer’s approach is at once disarmingly honest and intelligently crafted in the manner associated with the more literary side of pop, giving it a depth that rewards repeated listens as well as an immediacy that demands them.
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