Emily Alone is a poetic odyssey that dives into themes of loneliness, time, and the emptiness of not knowing one’s place in the world. The album, as the title implies, was recorded in solitude by songwriter Emily Sprague in her home in Los Angeles; her bandmates were on the other side of the country. This album is the result of this period of repose. It’s a sensitive album that hopes to try finding answers in the midst of great uncertainty.
Introspection is at the core of Emily Alone. This collection of songs feel like fleeting memories and lamentations during a period of self-exploration. The songs here are stripped down to the bare essentials, which allows the puts the lyrical content on the forefront. It’s not surprising when you realize that Emily Sprague is also an ambient musician.
As a result, there is an openness that is permeated within the record. It can be a lot to absorb at once, but Emily Sprague’s tender vocal delivery guide this thematic journey smoothly. Sprague’s delivery is haunting at points, yet there’s a tinge of hope for the future that remains within.
All throughout Emily Alone, Sprague employs the use of the ocean and wind as a metaphor for the album’s cardinal themes. It’s all a very natural feeling way to approach this topic.
“As Alone” starts the album off and contains some of the best lyrical poetry of the year. It frames Sprague as walking by an ocean staring longingly at the rushing waves; it’s an open space, yet feels largely empty.
I walk and I read, I spend time in the seaFlorist “As Alone” (2019)
And nothing brings clarity to what makes me me
Except knowing that some kind of sadness is freed
From the words and the sounds that I sing to myself
And Emily, just know that you’re not as alone
As you feel in the dark, as you feel in the dark
“Time is a Dark Feeling” sees Sprague grappling with the idea of change and the ultimate reality of death; a reality that we’ll all eventually face. In some respects, some lyrical parallels can be made for Phil Elvrum’s work with Mount Eerie. She evocatively compares the process of dying as “poison” and asks “Will this be a fair ending”? It’s one of the most somber moments on the entire record.
Thematically, the album hits its apex on “Ocean Arms”, “Rain Song”, and “I Also Have Eyes”. The latter is a rumination about the need to be social and how difficult that can be at times. Life seems to be blurred and Sprague starts to question what reality is happening to her.
Now it’s time to go outside the houseFlorist “I Also Have Eyes” (2019)
Say hello to someone, look at their eyes
I also have eyes, are the memories real?
Did I live through that day, did it happen to me?
Or did I go through the door
And fall into the beautiful void?
Emily Alone is a wonderful album that seeks to find answers to life’s most grave questions. Though she may not have all of the answers, Emily Sprague’s exploration of the subject matter is largely engaging and immersive.