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4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, 13 Jun 2011
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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 Jun. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Close Harbour (Stage 3)
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,235 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product description

Product Description

2011 sophomore album from the British singer/songwriter. Written and recorded under very different circumstances to her first, Virtue began as a series of stories Emmy embarked on after her engagement to an atheist, but took on a very different shape when he left her for the church. Using symbols borrowed from fairy tales and mythology, Emmy added the icons that have replaced them in our modern consciousness: industrial buildings, mushroom clouds, West London's Trellick Tower. Virtue was made in London and Sussex. This time round, Euan Hinshelwood, her long-term musical collaborator, and Emmy took the reins, rather than develop the songs with their full band in the studio. Euan came up with the guitar palette, strange, ambient, twisted and atmospheric, while Emmy wrote backing vocals for different characters she voiced herself.

BBC Review

On the one hand sweeping and allusive, on the other breathtakingly intimate and personal, Virtue is a dense, accomplished set of songs brought on by the disintegration of Emma-Lee Moss's engagement. Amid the swirling Paper Forest she sings the words "I'm blessed" with heartbreaking clarity; a kind of awestruck self-belief. Her delivery anchors the whole affair, assuming an emotional weight only glimpsed at previously.

Released through the band's own Close Harbour imprint and financed via the PledgeMusic fan-funding scheme, it is a far bigger, roomier set than debut album First Love, wherein many of the same players revolve around the core duo of Moss and Euan Hinshelwood. Along with producer Gareth Jones, the latter is responsible for the musical shift in tone. Softly wailing electric guitars and fuzzy basslines underpin many of the songs, which – married to Moss's plangent tones and a bevy of backing vocalists – creates a dreamy, otherworldly effect. If First Love sounded merely (very, very) pretty, then Virtue sees the pair hit upon something a little more idiosyncratic and unique.

Which is, you feel, exactly what they were aiming for. From the sultry, suggestive cover art to the wealth of characters and themes touched on over its 10 songs, Virtue is an extraordinarily confident work, even if that confidence is shaped by confusion and turmoil. Moss plays with the idea of narrative in the slow-burning Creation and delves into Jungian theory in Cassandra, talks dinosaur sex in, erm, Dinosaur Sex and paradise in North, pondering virtue and femininity all the while (A Woman, a Woman, a Century of Sleep is particularly stirring). There's a lot to chew on and conclusions are sometimes elusive, though the explorations precipitating them are unanimously enchanting.

On Paper Forest she sings of celebrating "The things that break us open and the things that make us feel." It's these things the record is ultimately concerned with, and she's never painted them as effectively as on the piano-led closer Trellick Tower. Moss's fiancé left her after discovering the church, and the song finds her alone in the flat they used to share, equating love with religion in an effort to work it all out. Resigned but never accusatory, it makes for a poignant reassurance that sometimes feeling utterly bewildered and lost is not only natural, but a strange and unmistakeable cause for optimism.

--James Skinner

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26 July 2017
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15 September 2017
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16 June 2012
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8 November 2015
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2 October 2011
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15 May 2012
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23 July 2011
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28 October 2014
Format: Audio CD
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