Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Listen: Emily Reo - "Strawberry"

photo by Brian Vu
It's been awhile since we've heard from Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Emily Reo and part of that is intentional. Since the release of her debut full length album Olive Juice in 2013 and the release of a 7" single for the enchanting "Spell" in 2016, Reo has been hard at work both working on an engaging follow up as well as lending her talents to a number of bands like Orchid Tapes labelmate Foxes in Fiction, Nadine, and Speedy Ortiz offshoot Sadi3. She's been incredibly vocal about the long and somewhat arduous journey between Olive Juice and now and how "Spell", the halfway point between, addresses Reo's mental health. "Strawberry", the first single from Reo's forthcoming album Only You Can See It, seems in tone to be the anthesis of "Spell", where "Spell" luxuriated in synth tones eventually allowing Reo's digitized voice to swallowed up in a wash of noise, "Strawberry" is a downright pop confection. Where Olive Juice was inspired by video games, pastels, and feelings of love, "Strawberry" instead is rooted in the very real concerns of the modern woman. But Reo is enough of a pop connoisseur and a skilled songwriter to know that the bitterest pills go down easy with a tiny bit of a distraction. Reo lists a multitude of things that not only she but pretty much every woman have to endure on a fairly daily basis - from the dangerous to the merely irritating: from street harassment to mansplaining.

Reo dresses her points up in buoyant, swirling synth tones and minimal amount of vocal effects, delivering her lines with a pitch perfect mix of righteous indignation and wry humor. "The days I've patiently waited while things I know are clarified or debated". Though her list of offenses are plentiful, "Strawberry" isn't just Reo griping about men but instead a call for women to be treated as equals. She also addresses how women are put down in the music industry - consistently asked if they're just someone's girlfriend at their own shows. "Strawberry" is a song about basic dignity and respect. To the point that Reo devotes a break down to it: "What do you deserve from me? N-O-T-H-I-N-G.". But while "Strawberry" is certainly an antithesis to "Spell", the building up of chorus and adlibs and verses and the layering of them all at the song's climax certainly recall Reo's previous single with Reo's "I can't feel anything" instead transfigured into an apt "I don't owe you anything".

Emily Reo's upcoming album Only You Can See It is out April 12th on Carpark Records. You can pre-order the record now.

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