This week I wanted to do a track by track on my favorite album of 2016. This is a life album for me, one of my top ten of all time albums by an artist who you should know, Emily King.
Emily King is one of those artists that once you take the time to explore her diverse discography, you won’t want to stop. In this Track by track, I will touch on the musicality of the songs, and what they mean to me.
Lets dive into The Switch.
If there’s something I need, I don’t already have, I know I’ll get it from a good friend.
That first line is repeated in the intro of the song, and it really sums up the message. The intro is accompanied by a nasty bass riff, synths and a tight drum sequence enter shortly after. King’s layers and harmonies are so in line with the production, it is all one voice.
King sings about the hardships in life that we all experience, “I know there is a mountain, I know there is a climb, I’ve thought about the danger, the darkness of the night”. She then explains in song that even though she fears certain things, she finds comfort in a good friend “but soon as I get weary, soon as I close my eyes, you’re there to lift the burden from my mind”.
I think we all have those people we can go to whether they be our partners, family members, or close friends. Through all the trials of life, seeing their faces, and hearing their voices an make the worst day better in an instant.
On the following track King heads in the opposite direction of “Good Friend”.
“The Animals” is a song about almost falling prey to the haters, the backstabbers, people whose sole motive is to drag you down. She speaks about this in a figurative way, comparing her enemies to animals.
Big teeth in your face, Claws like a razor blade, Never again will I ever be friends with a big bad wolf like you. Poison that will eat you alive, Tongue like a dragon fire, Never again will I ever be friends with a creepy little snake like you.
The song builds throughout. It starts off timid in a way, as if King is trying to convey that she is just finding the courage to stand up for herself, but by the end, it is swirling with passion and angst, and you can feel her message so heavy.
“I didn’t learn the first time but oh I learned the second time, Never again will we ever be friends, They told me “don’t feed the animals”.
I love how King writes. She makes you think that the song will be about one thing, and then you realize, it’s not about that at all.
She does this with “Sleepwalker”. From the title you would automatically assume that the song is about sleepwalking, which in all honesty would be cool because who sings about sleepwalking. But she is actually singing about wanting to resist someone romantically, and not being able to.
She describes it as she has no control over her emotions and actions, hence the reference to sleepwalking.
I feel my body/Without me again/Like a sleepwalker/Getting closer to you, getting closer to you.
It’s very hard to describe King’s music without sounding repetitive. The same words come to mind with almost every track; groovy, funky, eclectic, and tight, as in her band.
This song is very chill. It really calms me down. King sings about a beautiful place where all her memories and fears fade away.
Oh, there’s a beautiful place/Somewhere way beyond the trees/Don’t have to wish it down/Like it’s too hard to reach/I’m already there in my dreams.
King is a dreamer and you can feel that through music, here she sings about her place of solace that she escapes to.
Ah, halfway through the album we arrive at the title-track. In this song, King directly addresses her wishy-washy lover. She describes him as two-faced and sometimey.
Friends they adore you/It’s never boring, whenever you’re around/Great conversation, entertaining/You never let them down/But you’re always tired when I get you alone/You run out of your charms by the time we get home/And I ain’t got time.
The lyrics are so witty. She implies that he has an actual switch that he turns on and off depending on who he’s around. This happens in a lot of relationships. People put on masks to hide who they truly are, but in the end it comes out, and King strongly makes it clear that she “ain’t got time”.
“Aya” is the most unique song on the album. King says Aya the whole time, but it so spiritual and moving to me. It is only 1:20 seconds long.
Layered harmonies put you in a trance. Aya has several different meanings depending on what language it is used in. In Japanese it means “art”, “colorful”, and “beautiful”. In Hebrew it means “bird” or “to fly swiftly”.
Those meanings all have one thing in common, graceful, and that’s exactly what this song is.
While I have favorited every song on this album over the past year, “Distance” has been my steady favorite.
I think it’s the infectious groove, that reminds me of one of those late ‘70s soul jams, and the lyrics are so real! King sings about how Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I don’t think she is necessarily talking about a long distance relationship.
I think what King is trying to say through the song is that sometimes people need space to realize how much they actually need each other.
Oh love is always better/When we take time to get back to who we are when we are apart/Distance makes the heart grow/Even when I’m lonely I’m happy knowing that your love is never far/When we are apart distance makes the heart
“Out Of The Clouds”
I love jamming to this song in the car. I think it simply about not losing a chance with someone or something special King sings about there being an opening in the clouds, and not missing it. Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves that we don’t realize what we’re missing.
Oh, there is an opening/Darling it might not stay there way too long/Don’t let it go/Don’t let it go.
This is the only song on the album that makes me cry. It hits me right in the soul. King sings about losing her “center”, her focus, herself.
I think being a musician and creative there is so much positive and negative anxiety that I experience, and it’s easy to fall into the pit of doubt and the unknown. King sings this as a narrative to herself, trying to get back on track. The instrumentation in the build of the song is so emotional, that’s usually when the tears fall.
Little flower of summer/Once your seasons pass/Do you ever wonder/Why your petals fall so fast?/Little hope in my heart/Have I let you down?/Once I looked towards the stars/Now my gaze falls to the ground.
The lyrics are so eloquent, they are like poetry. I am grateful for this piece.
“Believer” is a really fun track. King sings about falling in love, and being afraid of it, which is a common theme. You can tell she is coming from a perspective of someone who has major trust issues.
Darling, I know that you could be the enemy/Leaving flowers at my door/And soon you’ll be asking for a key/Don’t understand/Why someone would be so good to me/Is there something else?/Something you’re trying to achieve?
She is very cynical and probably for good reason, but she has to admit that she’s falling. She conveys through the song that she is not a believer in romance, because all she’s gotten so far is crap, but i think by the end of the song she is ready to give this newfound love a chance.
“Darling, I think I’m going to take a leap of faith/They say sometimes something just cannot be explained/I’ve been around/I know that nothing ever comes free/Just give it up/And you just might get the best of me”.
I follow King on social media and she is extremely close with her parents who are also musicians. The finale song pays homage to them. She sings about wanting to make them proud in whatever she does, because in the end she does it for them.
I want my mother, I want my mother to be happy/I want my mother to be happy, and I’ll be/I want my father, I want my father to be happy/I want my father to be happy, and I’ll be.
Emily King delivers a stunning soulful performance with The Switch. Take some time out of your schedule to listen to this album, it might change your life as much as it’s changed mine.
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