The Italian-born folk songstress Emma Tricca returns with her second album, Relic, following on from the delicate and hushed Minor White, released back in 2009. Whereas the tracks on Minor White were sparsely arranged, with the emphasis purely on Tricca, the songs on Relic, such as the opener, ‘Golden Chimes (Intro)’, are filled with different textures and instruments. The use of Relic as the album title is a subtle hint to the style of music Tricca creates; she could easily be transported into the folk scene of New York City’s Greenwich Village of the 1960s. Tricca aims for authenticity and pulls it off with aplomb, and does so in a way which is radically different to certain other male folk ‘troubadours’ who are currently enjoying chart success. This is folk music sung with heart and soul, and played with passion.
Instrumentation plays a much bigger role here than it did on Minor White. Tricca is aided by percussion, keys and backing vocals, and rather than clutter the songs, each one is arranged to provide warmth to the listener. Subtlety is what Tricca excels at. ‘November at my Door’ sees Tricca accompanied by a gentle harmonica alongside her own guitar, and ‘All the Pretty Flowers’ has a string section nestled amongst her vocals, undercut with the restrained use of an electric guitar. It isn’t a case of ‘Tricca goes Electric’, a la Dylan at the Free Trade Hall, rather, it provides variety, and give each song a clear place on the record.
Relic, as a full piece of work, is superbly crafted and a delight to listen to. It is testament to Tricca’s abilities that each song has the potential to draw the listener in, partly due to the cinematic, widescreen nature of the instrumentation, but mostly due to how assured Tricca is at singing. These tracks could easily find themselves on a film soundtrack; not as backing music, but as stars in their own right. It may not revolutionise the Folk world, but it should find its own place in the folk compendium as a demonstration on how to modernise a scene without interfering with the basics. Relic simply is a joy from start to finish.
Words: Joe Sweeting