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01Swimming Pool

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Songs We Love: Emmy The Great, 'Swimming Pool'

Songs We Love: Emmy The Great, 'Swimming Pool'

01Swimming Pool

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    Song
    Swimming Pool
    Album
    Second Love
    Artist
    Emmy the Great
    Label
    Bella Union
    Released
    2016

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Emmy the Great Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Emmy the Great

Courtesy of the artist

Second Love Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Performing as Emmy the Great, Emma-Lee Moss makes music not unlike the hushed, intense conversations that can spring up between strangers at a party. From her intimate lyrical intricacies to the careful way she plays guitar, Moss' gaze is unbroken, her vulnerability utter and her attention to detail unwavering. Emmy the Great's first two albums, First Love (2009) and Virtue (2011), were poetic, acoustic confessions propelled by heartbreak and by Moss' supremely deft songwriting. She spent those records telling listeners her stories, with minimal decoration and maximal impact.

"Swimming Pool," the first single from Moss' newest album Second Love, still sounds like social gathering colloquy — but observed through the wrong end of a telescope. It's a seamless blend of organic and mechanized production, capitalizing on both Moss' soft, round-edged voice and her new obsession with sharper-edged technology. The entirety of Second Love grapples with futurism both as recording tool and subject matter; and "Swimming Pool," as the album opener, is a perfect introduction to the theme. It was the first song Moss recorded for the new album, she wrote via email, and it set her on a three-year course that changed her sound and the lens on her worldview:

It happened by accident really, and it was so different from everything else I'd written previously... I think it sent me on the mission I ended up on, which took me all over America trying to find my sound.

Originally released on 2015's S EP, "Swimming Pool" pairs Moss' distinct presence with wavering, distant-sounding instrumentation provided electively (and impactfully) by Wild Beast's Tom Fleming. Every Emmy the Great song is anchored by Moss' lyrics, which manage to be coolly observant and warmly accessible at once, and this one is no different. This track sounds like the journey-starter it was: slow moving, revelatory, and thoughtful, interested in how things are versus how they appear.

It also ended up being prophetic. A few months after recording "Swimming Pool," which started as a metaphor for imagining the perfection of other people's lives without knowing the reality, Moss moved to Los Angeles, and found herself watching friends jump into swimming pools regularly. This song and the album it precipitated cast their gaze wholly to the future, and occasionally the future rushes up to meet them.

Second Love is out March 11th on Bella Union.

Purchase Featured Music

Second Love

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Second Love
Artist
Emmy the Great
Label
Bella Union
Released
2016

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

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