Derby based singer songwriter Emma Buckley might appear to have come from nowhere to the uninitiated, but she’s actually been a very smart cookie by not releasing a solo EP until she’d got a bazillion gigs under her belt, both in her own right and with her university band Ruby Sky. This has allowed her to hone her craft to the highest level as both a performer and a songwriter and that is immediately apparent on this debut solo record.
Emma’s musical journey began with learning the cello as an eight-year-old and her talent for music quickly blossomed, making her place at Paul McCartney‘s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts a dead cert. Ah, so she did a music degree, whatever, I hear you cry – but getting into LIPA is practically impossible, folks. Only 4% of applicants are successful and LIPA is not the X Factor with a certificate at the end. You learn how to actually craft songs, perform them to a professional level and more importantly, understand exactly how the music industry works in the twenty first century. Sir Macca himself handed over her degree when she graduated. Emma also has heritage – for those of you old enough to remember him, Emma’s Dad is Ray Buckley – formerly of what was arguably one of Derby’s most successful touring bands, folk rockers The New Cranes.
As a result, her debut solo EP Don’t Tell Me is a collection of perfectly crafted and very mature acoustic pop songs, with ear worm choruses and extremely sassy lyrics. On the surface, the five songs she’s chosen to release appear to be standard tales of unrequited love and relationships falling apart, but lyrically, they are far from that. Basically Emma is not putting up with your crap any more, boys. She’s got you all sussed. Prove You Wrong easily gives Ed Sheeran a run for his money with its pop-sensibilities making the perfect backdrop for a venomous, biting ‘your loss, not mine’ break up song that flip-reverses the standard dynamic.
Title track Don’t Tell Me is equally clever with its similar narrative, but delivered in a fragile, breathy and intimate way that has you spellbound, while Walk Of Shame is ruthless in its analysis of those vacuous one-night-stand types who’s only goal is to add you to add you to a list of their conquests, share the photos of it on social media and move on to the next.
See My Butterflies however, is the most heart wrenching song out of the lot – A ‘coming of age’ unrequited love story with stunning lyrical imagery (‘the world looks so much more beautiful when it’s reflecting off your eyes, so look in mine and see my butterflies’) and a ‘it’s never too late’ turn-around ending that leaves you punching the air.
Don’t Tell Me is an all round stunning debut from a woman who, while at the start of her professional music career, is already at the top of her game. If I was to add any criticism to this EP, it would be ‘get a band’ – while solo acoustic music is currently enjoying a renaissance thanks to the likes of the aforementioned Mr Sheeran, I can’t help but think Ms Buckley‘s true potential as a multi-instrumentalist with a stunning voice could be fully unlocked as part of a band with a debut album. Then she’d be a 6 out of 5.
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You can also read more about Emma and her Dad, Ray in this Daily Mail article.