Emily Wells is proud to present Mama Acoustic Recordings, a stripped down reworking of her 2012 record, Mama, which will be released digitally and on vinyl on June 11th via Partisan Records. This new effort sees the NYC-based singer/musician/producer casting it all aside, re-imagining songs first heard on 2012’s Partisan debut, Mama. Where that collection was marked by Wells’ extraordinary fusion of hip hop, experimental dance music, lyrical introspection, and classical complexity, the new album is stunningly austere, recorded solely with voice and guitar. Wells will headline US shows this spring and summer, playing major cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. The tracklisting and full list of tour dates is below.
From the start, Wells’ musical interests were simply too wide ranging for but one instrument. Trained as a classical violinist, the Texas native soon created her own sonic “spaceship,” an ever-growing pulsating arsenal of synthesizers, effects pedals, and toy instruments, all tied together with live sampling and a genre agnostic approach that is diverse, distinctive, and utterly her own. Wells honed her sound on a series of independent releases – including a groundbreaking cover of The Notorious B.I.G.’s classic “Juicy” – while also playing countless live dates both as bandleader and solo performer.
Mama Acoustic Recordings is a kind of accidental album, recorded last year while Wells was on self-described “sabbatical” living with friends in Portland, Oregon. Having spent much of the past five years on the career track, Wells treated herself to a long deserved breather. Of course, an artist as restlessly creative as Wells can’t stay silent for long. The powerful fan reaction to her acoustic version of “Darlin'” – released as a Mama bonus track – led her to a revelatory reassessment of her own work.
Wells began experimenting with her traveling reel-to-reel, recording gentle new versions of “Mama’s Gonna Give You Love” and “Johnny Cash’s Mama’s House” with just her voice and acoustic guitar (and beloved Fostex Spring Reverb unit). Peeling off her own ornate production, she revealed her songs to herself, exposing new meaning though stark minimalism.
Before long Wells had recorded 10 tracks – including one new song in the plaintive “Los Angeles.” The naked renditions of Mama highlights like “Passenger” and “Fire Song” were both striking and subtle, reminiscent of such iconic works of pastoral folk as Karen Dalton’s classic In My Own Time and Iron & Wine’s The Creek Drank The Cradle (like Mama Acoustic Recordings, its hushed tone determined by others sleeping in the next room). Though Wells hadn’t previously given much thought to releasing the material, upon reflection it was clear that the recordings demanded something more.
Wells’ unaccompanied efforts were complimented by a series of collaborative undertakings alongside a remarkably varied range of artists. She penned “Becomes The Color” to serve as closing theme to Chan-Wook Park’s acclaimed psychological thriller, Stoker, while her teaming with the film’s score composer, Clint Mansell, “If I Ever Had A Heart,” is featured as a bonus cut on the official soundtrack. As if that weren’t enough, 2013 has also seen the long awaited release of Pillowfight, Wells’ slinky partnership with the one and only Dan the Automator.
“I’ve always been sort of stunned at how, as an artist, people expect you to keep doing the same thing,” she says, “and I never do.”
3. Los Angeles
4. No Good
5. Johnny Cash’s Mama’s House
6. Mama’s Gonna Give You Love
7. Let Your Guard Down
8. Fire Song
9. Dirty Sneakers & Underwear
10. Piece of It
4/7 – Iowa City, IA – Mission Creek Festival
5/1 – Mechanicsburg, PA – Larsen Student Union at Messiah College
5/2 – Ithaca, NY – The Haunt
5/3 – Buffalo, NY – Ninth Ward
5/5 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern
5/8 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick Lounge
5/9 – Indianapolis, IN – Radio Radio
5/10 – Chicago, IL – Schuba’s
5/17 – Blairstown, NJ – Historic Blairstown Theater
6/13 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
6/14 – San Francisco, CA – The Chapel
6/19 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
6/20 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
8/8 – Hart, MI – Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (Main Stage)