words by maria sledmere
On new album, St Peter, Roman-born Emma Tricca wears her musical wanderings the way you would an excellent pair of new culottes: lightly and loosely with sway and grace. At ten-tracks long, St Peter mixes the intricate finger-picking of the singer’s folky roots with capacious swirls of emotion, captured in passages of sound that veer between coolly steady and warmly sensual. With twists of irreverence, this is nevertheless a record of dedicated heart. In Christian discourse, St Peter is often a symbol for stability, an apostle who aided the sick and lame; with this title at the helm, Tricca’s record perhaps gestures to the healing power of song, its ability to quieten the turbulence of life to the soothing excursions of lyric, the blur of a chord into longing.
Detailing sweeping panoramas of landscape, the mountains and sea, the blue and the green, this is an album obsessed with borders—but more importantly, their traversal. Inspired as much by the subtlety of existential desolation found in the Italian crepuscolari poets as the urban anomie of The Velvet Underground, Tricca rides the shadier, sorrowful waves of folk inspiration (Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny) to arrive at expansive, ambient shores. For while this is a record of comely detail, Tricca is not afraid of noise, ugly or otherwise. The sawing vibrations that open closing track ‘So Here It Goes’ soon bloom into a bittersweet hymn to life’s passing, the stars changing hands, the seasons shifting; but rather than quietly recede in this pastoral manner, the track then opens into a muted, growling affair of brooding bass and anxious, dissonant drones of guitar. Throughout the record, surface intimations of prettiness are shadowed by these ripples of drama—cinematic changes in tempo or tone. Tricca’s voice is that of a singer in transition, a traveller across time and space, genre and scene.
Dwelling in the crepuscular zone between lo-fi rasp and clear lyric sweetness, she invites vocal comparison to Vashti Bunyan or Sibylle Baier, those acoustic poets of forlorn and surreal, train-ride pondering. There’s the old-time melancholy of tracks like ‘Salt’, shaken with a hardier electric grit; but then also the rootsy, tuneful ‘Green Box’, with its symbolist images that seem plucked from another world altogether. In that Scarborough Fair-kind of darkness, there’s a sense of roaming through distance, bearing the weight and sparkle of narratives unseen, new places to visit. Among more lilting, road-trip tracks like ‘Julian’s Wings’ are moments of introversion and calm such as ‘Mars Is Asleep’, drawing us towards mournful, soporific, Mazzy Star softness.
Throughout, Tricca flutters or drapes her voice over melodies, luxurious as a clematis flower or Joanna Newsom’s soprano croon. With the exploratory rain sounds, twangling atmospheres and light-touch percussion of ‘Buildings in Millions’, or the seven-minute epic of ‘Solomon Said’—adorned with Judy Collins’ spoken rendition of ‘Albatross’—Tricca crystallises all that is special about travelling, musically, in the manner of Yo La Tengo, bleeding between genres and moods, feeling a little trippy; all that is special about a Sunday afternoon lying in sunlight, listening for the evening bells in a city you love.
It’s quite the privilege to present such a record, one that deserves time between the shadows and light; one you might find haunting you later as you drive or walk, smile or cry, doing the little things that make your time.
Purchase the album here, via Rough Trade
21/04 London – Flashback Records Islington (in store)_
23/06 Liverpool – Renshaw St.
27/06 Manchester – Jimmy’s