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Jonathan Emile’s “Moses”

Jonathan Emile’s “Moses” begins with the moan of a harmonica, its windy melody cushioning the patient strum of an acoustic guitar at the top of the mix. There isn’t any percussion, but an implied rhythm does begin to take shape whilst the strings duel with the harmonica for our affections. Jonathan Emile’s velvety vocal isn’t far behind, but he definitely isn’t rushing to the front of the stage just yet. This instrumental introduction is crucial to creating the mood of the song, and even though it lasts for only twenty seconds, it imparts what feels like an entire composition’s-worth of narrative without ever calling on Emile to sing a single lyric.

When Emile does begin to serenade us, there’s no turning away from his voice. His finger is on the very pulse of the audience, and while this is a studio recording that was made far from the eyes and ears of his fans, it has the intimate energy of something that one would find in a small-scale club performance. He pendulously sings as though he’s fighting to get every word out of his head and into the atmosphere around us, but there’s not a lot of hesitation in his execution. Emile knows what he wants to say to us here, and instead of trying to be surreally poetic in any of his statements, he adds a blunt edge to these enigmatic verses and stokes a reaction out of anyone listening.

“Moses” concludes much in the same fashion that it starts; with a subtle strum of guitar as muscular in tone as any of the lyrics we’ve just heard were, and despite running a surprising four minutes in length, it’s easy to see where fans could play the single all over again without feeling overpowered by their first listening session. In summary, Emile is no stranger to the studio, and he boasts a lot of experience in his play here. He isn’t jumping the gun at a big heavyweight hook, but he also isn’t afraid to get as melodic as his voice will allow him to be in an effort to make a good song even better. I like his style, and I can’t wait for more.

Mindy McCall

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