EMA Shares single “Blood & Chalk”
– New album ‘Exile In The Outer Ring’
out August 25th on City Slang
– UK tour in October
With her third album, ‘Exile in the Outer Ring’, set for release later this month (August 25th via City Slang), EMA has shared a fourth and final track.
“Blood and Chalk was originally written for the #Horror soundtrack” explains Erika M. Anderson (aka EMA). “I wrote the lyrics very quickly, with the idea that it was about the experience of being a 12 year-old girl, kind of right on the cusp between childhood and starting to grow up. But when I played it for Jake (Portrait) he said he thought it was about a police shooting. I was kind of shocked, but it also makes complete sense from that point of view. Makes me wonder if my subconscious mind was working on a different level, creating a double meaning.”
“I’m excited about this record because it has everything I personally like listening to: fat synth drones, heavy guitar riffs, singsong backing harmonies and narratives about small town leftovers and complex loves; whispered secrets, kids from the void, static turned into melody and layers of crafted feedback,” she says, surmising the this third full length release as EMA, which finds her more confident in her stride than ever before. “This is my language, my sonic signature and psychic soundtrack. I’m ripping off the past 10 years of my own work and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”
After the success of 2010’s Past Life Martyred Saints and 2014’s prophetic The Future’s Void, EMA retreated to a basement in Portland, Oregon. She returns with a portrait of a world both familiar and alien: The Outer Ring, a pitch-black world of half-empty subdivisions, American flags hung over basement windows, big-box stores and strip malls and rage. In a year dominated by working-class alienation, EMA — a Midwesterner who has never lost her thousand-yard stare — has delivered an album that renders American poverty and resentment with frightening realism and deep empathy.
The album, co-produced with Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, is unique in its mingling of gender politics with American working-class anxiety. The voices we hear in these songs — druggy, surly societal outcasts; Byronic nihilists bringing down fire — speak to a kind of rebellion that’s typically reserved for men, and the archetype of the “rebellious dirtbag teenage boy” dominates the album. Yet EMA claims some of that same dirtbag alienation for women — “a woman who swallowed a scumbag teen boy whole,” as she puts it – and uses it to interrogate both her own vulnerability and how male violence shapes the world, as on “Aryan Nation,” where Exile’s many threads come together. Feminist alienation becomes working-class alienation (if you can’t see yourself in a “famous man,” is it because he’s a man, or because he’s famous?) just as one person’s abuser becomes the systemic abuse of a nation. It’s an expansive vision that brings together concerns from every corner of our present moment – and themes that have recurred throughout EMA’s career, from the brutality of late capitalism to the collapsing boundaries between private and public – into one dark portrait of what it means to be American in 2017.
Even as the album delivers what might otherwise be a total indictment, EMA never loses sight of the possibility of healing; if Exile In The Outer Ring spends a lot of time addressing rage, it also asks what growing up submerged in all this violence does to one’s ability to trust and connect with others (“Receive Love”), or whether it’s even possible to run away from pain (“Always Bleeds”). The result is a deeply personal, confrontational, but ultimately redemptive album from a quintessentially American artist at the peak of her form.
Exile In The Outer Ring will arrive in stores on August 25, 2017 via City Slang and is available for pre-order in multiple bundle packages via Bandcamp and select US/UK indie stores, with previously released tracks “Aryan Nation” and “Breathalyzer” coming as instant grat downloads: https://emaband.lnk.to/outerring.
EMA UK live dates:
02 – Brighton, UK @ Sticky Mike’s*
03 – London, UK @ Oslo*
04 – Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen*
05 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Games Room*
06 – Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast*
07 – Leicester, UK @ The Cookie*
‘Exile in the Outer Ring’ track list:
1. 7 Years
3. I Wanna Destroy
4. Blood and Chalk
5. Down and Out
6. Fire Water Air LSD
7. Aryan Nation
8. Nihilistic and Female
9. Receive Love
10. Always Bleeds
11. Where The Darkness Began