Emily Duff is an artist who comes along once in a blue moon and just stops you in your tracks. She reminds at times of Lucinda Williams, to whom she has been compared, along with Patti Smith. The Patti isn’t quite so conspicuous. She has a deep, raspy voice with a hint of a twang and she writes often dark music that tugs at the soul. Kinda like a singing Bukowski.
“Hypmotizing Chickens“ is about a creepy family (“hypmotizing chickenz with papa in the front yard – nobody’s home/wonderin’ why life’s gotta be so hard – nobody’s home/crazy uncle Jeff in the middle of the night – nobody’s home/two arms wrapped around me way too tight – nobody’s home.”) and “Please Don’t Do Me Dirty” speaks to the strain of a relationship(“I don’t ask for much/you see I understand the game/I know a woman needs her man/and a man shouldn’t need to explain/so I’m callin’ you out for my proper respect/I know what I deserve/and honey I ain’t received it yet”). Every song here could be made into a movie, so rich are the story lines.
“Maybe In the Morning” covers the downward spiral of addiction (“They want their smokin’ time/They need their fixin’ time/They somethin’ somethin’ time/maybe in the morning/They got their sour time/their sick and sinful time/They need some mercy time/maybe in the morning”) and “Bomp Bomp” is one of the most compelling songs about domestic violence that this writer has heard. (“Drunk every night and now he’s raising his bare hands/She just hangs her head in shame/Shaking her down hard for her hair net minimum wage/She’s so tired of playing this game/black-eyed and searching for a way out…”). “Daddy’s Drunk Again,” for which there is a clever video on her web page, seems to be the single that’s being promoted. The lyrics, again, are starkly real: “Daddy you left us a long time ago/jumped out of your mind/a place I don’t want to go.” “Alabama” is a tune about driving south with mom and dad. “Diamonds” is about good love gone bad and “Needle Drop Blues” sorta juxtaposes a love for vinyl with disdain for a man.
Twelve mini-dramas. Gripping and introspective, it strikes this writer as one of the best albums of the year.