Spotify algorithms are usually very adept at leading you to musicians based on your listening styles, and one can say that they do a good job at it most of the time. However, now and then, the algorithms do their trick and introduce you to a relatively unknown artist. As you listen to this discovery, you can find yourself racking your brain as to why your discovery has only 300 odd listeners on their Spotify. Eventually, you go around parties and gatherings telling everyone of your discovery and hope that the people you are talking to follow your suggestions up to check your discovery out — if for no other reason, but because your discovery should make it big in the industry.
Emma Kieran is one such discovery. Kieran’s debut album Wildflower not only exceeds the expectations one can have from a young singer-songwriter but sets a benchmark in its wake. The eleven-track acoustic adventure with a runtime of 37 minutes gathers remarkable inspiration from previous country-folk and indie-folk acts, giving those acts their polish in the form of a new album. Wildflower is a collection of Kieran’s songs written over the years, including some previously released singles which are now under the album’s umbrella. In Wildflower, we can observe thematic variations of nature and the self and affirm an existentialist presence in the vast world. The album’s lead-off consists of six songs, beginning with Wonder — a beautifully arranged indie-folk number that easily becomes one of the tracks people can remember the album by. Think the best of Rachel Platten and early Taylor Swift, but in 2021 — that is Wonder. The mellow percussive elements and muted acoustic offer the song the rudimentary charm of indie, constituting the potential to be sung in the sway of groups of people. Alchemy, inspired by the literary genius of Paulo Coelho, finds itself morphed into a thoroughly catchy, buoyant number. A great pick-me-up track, it becomes the ideal song for tapping along footpaths in the morning sun, particularly when one can be feeling down.
The album reaches its dulcet decorum with Old Woman in the Wood — a euphonious melody embellished with harmonic arpeggios and synth instrumentals made even more lustrous with Kieran’s background vocalisation. Old Woman in the Wood is potentially a song making its way straight out of a cultural Disney clip, and it can be surprising that it is not yet so. The title track comes at an opportune juncture — an amicable, well-rounded optimistic number, carrying the best elements of singer-songwriters such as Jason Mraz and Ari Hest. Different Way Now is the album’s emotional break, with the piano making its timely entry. The track is single-handedly carried across through the duality of the piano and Kieran’s vocals, with no added instrumentation. Notwithstanding its simple features, Different Way Now makes explicit Kieran’s affinity for musical storytelling set in the backdrop of a grainy, monochromatic, and lonely summer.
A Message for You is Kieran’s bottled time capsule, reflecting her gratitude for her listeners and reflecting the ability of goodness to change the world. English Breakfast Tea is a melancholic and bittersweet memoir of Kieran’s visit to England and her tale of observance of Piccadilly. It is a nostalgic sigh of a song, replete with spritzes of longing for the past. As Kieran breaks the chorus into a narrative recitation, the song reminds us of the forgotten radio elements of the Internet. Dream Away carries onward the philosophical undertones of previous tracks such as Wonder and Different Way Now, accompanied with mandolin instrumentals accompanying the festive acoustic. Million Balloons is the album’s romantic rendezvous, while Roundabout is the quintessential song for a car ride. The album draws to a close reiterating Kieran’s affinity with nature, as she sings a balladic tune reflecting our place in the universe, and among the people and things that surround us.