Galway songwriter Emma Lohan crafts intricate, gentle melodies based around her travels on debut album Black Atlantic. After exploring the Atlantic coast from her homeland in Ireland to West Africa and South America, Lohan has created eight tracks that explore her reactions to the landscapes, to the people, and to her own emotions along the way. She’s set to self-release the record (in association with CITOG RECORDS) on October 25th in digital format, as well as on recycled CD (with a download code included).
On opening track ‘Wander Free’, Lohan extrapolates about places she’s never been. Accompanied by gentle guitar, steady percussion and twinkling strings, her lamentations have a captivating day-dream-like quality. Following track ‘1957’ flows in the same vein, as she explores the universe through calm chords and tender vocals. Her journey continues with ‘Snails Trail’, on which she states “I’m not lost, nor am I found” – which feels like an apt explanatory lyric for each of her songs on the record. Her careful story-telling makes the image in the song’s title glisten with gentle intensity.
‘Three Sparrows’ is a nod to her “lyrical hero” Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, and is accompanied by a beautiful stop-motion video directed by Marta Barcikowska. Filled with double entendre, it’s “an escape encapsulating a dangerous love affair” along the stormy Salthill Promenade of Lohan’s hometown in Galway. Her fusion of folk and romance combine beautifully here, making ‘Three Sparrows’ a charming listen. ‘Gut’ follows with its disarming string arrangements and more of Emma’s instinctive lyrics: “there’s beauty in flaws” – and the upbeat, atmospheric sounds of ‘Serekunda’ break through shortly after.
On the penultimate ‘Wild Days’ Lohan yearns for times gone by; times of freedom and reckless abandon, before title track ‘Black Atlantic’ closes the record. Lohan paints images of childhood isolation and loneliness with her lyrics, but the song feels anything but sad – it has a transient quality that makes these painful moments feel less melancholy. Her upbeat rhythms and casual delivery make this a triumphant closing song.
Black Atlantic is clearly a personal album for Emma Lohan, but with her smooth delivery and the record’s buoyant undercurrent of joyful exploration – its a personal experience that can be shared and enjoyed by others too.