7.75 out of 10
"Mama" is the ninth release from Texas born, New York resident Emily Wells. Of those nine, only five are official label-backed albums. The prior collections are self-released albums. I personally have yet to hear anything before "Mama" but upon hearing her latest, all I can really say is that this is one COOL album. I know that's a very broad and non-descriptive review, but let me try to elaborate.
Try to imagine Joanna Newsom & Coco Rosie got together, locked themselves up in a room, smoked a few joints, popped a couple Valium, busted out a few stringed instruments, a dozen different toy instruments, plus a drum machine and attempted to make a Trip Hop album.. It's difficult to explain a specific genre that Wells falls into since her music slightly varies from song to song, but one thing that remains constant throughout "Mama" is a mellow, downbeat Hip Hop groove and a barely noticeable "Electro-undertow" that supports her soulful voice. Pair that with other elements like dreamy glockenspiel hooks, orchestral melodies with playful violin plucks, or a wandering banjo and you get this stew of Indie/Soul/Neo-Classical/Folk/Hip/Trip Hop deliciousness. "Passenger", the first single from "Mama", is pure minimal gold. On this track, a simple beat takes a backseat to the reverb-saturated vox while a violin rides shotgun. "Mama's Gonna Give You Love" is probably the "Hip Hoppiest" track of the bunch, offering up a slinky, seductive feel, while on "Let Your Guard Down", Wells unleashes her soul as it spills all over a Blues riff that forces you to feel her pain. This album would be great for a chill diner party atmosphere, or a late night decompression fall-asleep-to album, or a lazy, Sunday morning, wake-and-bake kinda day too I suppose. I could go on and on but I stand by my initial review... this is one COOL album. I'm talking Miles Davis cool.
I've always hated saying things like "There's something for everyone on this album", but dammit, there really is. Highly recommended for anyone with a pulse.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Passenger, Let Your Guard Down, Johnny Cash's Mama's House, Piece of It