by Alex Powelson
In less than half an hour, Emily Brown takes you on a trip from a sweet, sugary optimism to a blatant exposure of your insecurities, and yet leaves you feeling all the better for it.
The opening track, “So Many Ways”, is a bit misleading in relation to the rest of the album because it is the most upbeat song on the album. Lyrically, it does fit with the rest of the songs because Emily sings about the insecurities that come with admitting feelings of affection, and that tone is carried throughout the album.Musically, “Enemy of Time” is more low-key and sets the mood for much of the rest of the album. This song has a sweet simplicity to it, providing great clarity for her lyrics about shadows and pinwheels, among other things, to denote passing time.
Her words about passing time lead perfectly into “Somewhere”, which is about looking for hope and the uncertainty of what the future may hold. This song slows down and then quickly speeds up in some parts, which commands your attention and reminds you of the strong, passionate girl behind the piano who is willing to expose her weaknesses in song.
“Song of an Insomniac” calls back to the upbeat mood the album started out on, but does stay true to the theme of insecurity that carries through all of the songs. The comparison of Emily Brown to Regina Spektor has to be made, as they play a similar brand of anti-folk; however, Emily does not rely on the same storytelling techniques (namely, stories of fictional characters) as Regina and has instead crafted some truly beautiful lyrics with distinguished imagery told in first person. This song feels more like a story than the rest, except maybe the final song on the album, which is partially due to the words “I stayed up ‘til two in the morning not thinking of you; not thinking of you, and I stayed up til three in the morning ignoring the truth; ignoring the truth.”
In “Alright”, the standout track on the album, her voice reaches chilling highs and, like the previous song, is somewhat upbeat. It showcases her abilities as a vocalist more than any other song. “Alright” is the most successful in expressing the theme of insecurity because she spills what it is exactly that she’s afraid of.
This leads us to the softer song, “You’d Think”, which leads into the even more tender “Don’t Call Me Sweetheart”. “You’re just wasting my time, boy, and you’re bringing me down.”
“The New York Song” finishes off the album appropriately as a goodbye song that asks for some kind of promise that she’ll see you again, which she certainly will after listening to this album.
This Goes With Us avoids the pretentiously earnest feel of some folk music and instead evokes the genuine and raw spirit of a girl singing exactly what she means with her piano.
You can visit her new website, This Goes With Us, to listen to Emily’s music and find more information.