Album Review: Louis Emory and The Reckless Few’s “Love Italy”

TROY – Releasing their debut EP today (Oct. 21), Louis Emory and The Reckless Few have produced a great introduction into their recording career with Love Italy. Just six songs in length, Emory displays a strong sense of arrangement and songwriting knowhow, taking his listeners on a veritable aural journey through Italy. Blending nostalgia for a place – almost to the point of anthropomorphizing geography – with musical genres such as roots-rock, Americana, country, and more; this is a fine album with which the band can be introduced.

Starting off the record is “Roma.” A quick drum fill begins this song, followed by guitar chords and a subtly played slide guitar part. As the vocals kick in, the vibe of the tune and album is set. There are tons of Americana vibes, indeed, but especially in the vocals; Americana with just a dash of roots-rock and country. Nothing is overtly difficult in the instrumentation, but it’s all very tastefully arranged and executed. For example, take the slide guitar interlude after one of the choruses. To end the song, Emory uses a well-crafted arrangement tool: repeating the refrain of the chorus – “’Cause I’m on my way back to Roma” – several times before a last musical statement is performed. Emory’s affinity for slide guitar is solidified with the next two songs, “La Serenissima” and “Firenze.”

With “La Serenissima,” we hear a full-band intro, including more slide guitar. During the pre-chorus, what sounds like a cello enters into the mix. The female harmonies in this tune really add to the overall feel, as do the call-and-answer type vocals in the chorus. There’s a certain relaxed tone to Emory’s voice – none of the melody or vocal performances reaches for highs or stretches for lows – that fits perfectly for the tone and tenor of the song.

Louis Emory. Photo credit: Raeanne Wright.

For the following track, “Firenze,” the longest of the collection of tunes, there’s yet again a slide utilized in the intro. The vocals are a bit higher in this track, adding in a bit of “snarl” to the quality of the melody. With this, a bit of tension is introduced that previously hasn’t been heard on the record. To this listener, the track should be blasting in the car, driving down a long stretch of open highway. While the chords and performance of such on guitar is definitely reminiscent of roots-rock, the vibe from the chorus screams – in all the right ways – a familiarity of music harkening back to the British Invasion. This song really helps demonstrate how tight Louis Emory and The Reckless Few are as a band – the interplay between instruments is greatly orchestrated. During the last quarter of the tune, as Emory’s vocal fades out into the mix, we hear the female vocal part really begin to soar in pitch, clarity, and intensity. The delivery of this vocal part reminds me of the great soul and R&B records of the 1970’s. That being said, clocking in at over seven minutes, it is by far the longest of the six, and while it didn’t deter this particular author from listening, some may prefer it being a bit shorter.

Already through half the record, up next is “Florence in the Fall.” Veering a bit from the past three songs, this tune opens with a simple but effective acoustic guitar part that serves as the bedrock for a melody that strongly emanates nostalgia. After the chorus, the drums come in, bringing the energy level up a bit. This is a solid indie-rock song that could easily cause a sense of dreaminess. Continuing to listen, I really enjoy the piano motif that enters during the latter half of the tune.

Blending the feel of the first half of the album with the previous track, is “Oh Tuscany.” Though it has more of a roots-rock energy, there’s also an acoustic vibe still very much present with the addition of bluegrass instrumentation, such as the mandolin. Another song steeped in nostalgia, this is made clear during the song’s conclusion: the lyrics keep repeating the refrain “You’re in my heart,” as the tune fades out.

The contemplative closer of the record, “La Primavera,” begins with an acoustic guitar intro, with sparse ride cymbal bell strikes in the distance. These strikes slowly turn to cymbal swells. Unlike the rest of the vocal performances, this track has a bit of breathiness that may draw some listeners in, while pushing others away. Breathiness – stressing this is in the opinion of the author – can be a polarizing quality. It isn’t until the halfway point of the song that the drums fully kick in. As the song progresses, a nice keyboard pad part helps glue all of the instrumentation together. For me, it was the perfect choice in terms of concluding the record. Adding to the ever-permeating nostalgic tones, this song’s calmness, for lack of a better word, serves as a great resolution to that which may have built up as a result of such emotions.

Louis Emory and The Reckless Few, with Love Italy, have entered strongly into the fray. In six songs, that blend Americana, country, and roots-rock, the music and melodies clearly outline a deep sense of appreciation and nostalgia that listeners might very well attach their own sense of nostalgia to. Go and check the record out for yourself here.

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