Taken from the band’s recent album Modern Nature, two version of the track will feature on the independent record shop release from Tim Burgess’ O Genesis label – one of which features the song’s subject answering back, and you can hear now via Q.
As frontman Tim Burgess recently told us in his track-by-track guide to the album (listen below), the song was inspired by him presenting to Dionne Warwick at the 2012 Q Awards, and his attempt to write a farewell song in the spirit of Walk On By.
However having completed his version for the band’s album, he sent the song to Nashville singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell along with a copy of the lyrics and she then wrote a ‘reply’ version of the song entitled Emanuel.
For a backing track she used a version of the song called Honestly, boasting strings by the High Lamas‘ Sean O’Hagan,, that was released on ‘deluxe editions’ of Modern Nature.
“Mark and I wrote an early version of the song when we stayed at a rented beach house in Rye to come up with some ideas. There was a windswept romance to the beach, like in The French Lieutenants Woman. When we’d recorded it, it seemed like it was a story that would suit a second episode,” explains Burgess of Emilie.
“I met Laura Cantrell a few years ago through a mutual love of new order. We sang Love Vigilantes together at her gig at The Union Chapel in London. I’d always loved the storytelling element in her songs and I wondered what she’d make of Emilie. I sent her the song and we were knocked out with what came back, it was the second half to the story. Mark Spencer from Son Volt added pedal steel over Sean O Hagan’s strings and brought out the timeless beauty of Laura’s lyrics”
For her part, Cantrell explains she fleshed out the character of Emilie to create her answer to the song.
“When Tim and co asked if I would write alternate lyrics for their song Emilie, the idea was proposed of answering the song as if answering a letter. I wondered about the actual character of Emilie. Was she sheltered or fragile? The words to the original seemed somewhat opaque on paper but really come to life with the music, the chorus just lifts up with that mysterious strength that songs have where words, melody, production all combine to transport you into their reality. So I knew no matter what the character of my Emilie would be in writing her letter, she’d have to kill it on the chorus,” she tells Q.
“Then I heard the Charlatans instrumental track with its gorgeous string arrangement. The lushness of the strings is very poignant and dreamy. I thought Emilie should seem a bit ethereal, but the more I meditated on her, the more interesting it seemed to me that she have some resilience, some inner toughness of her own, even with an overlay of romance and melodrama. The idea came about that perhaps she’d been denied the ability to speak for herself and that perhaps the romance/relationship she was experiencing had emboldened her, helped bring out her own voice. Certain images, like characters from Jane Eyre whose mysteries are revealed dramatically, or old films like Light In The Piazza with its young American woman thought to be simple minded as she marries into an Italian family, were steeping themselves into the mix.”
The song will feature on the Record Store Day from the O Genesis label – limited to 500 copies – and is backed by a cover of Emilie from DFA recording artist Sinkane.
Listen to Emanuel exclusively now, plus here’s the original too…
For more details about Record Store Day’s 2015 releases head to Recordstoreday.co.uk, plus listen to Tim Burgess’ exclusive guide to Modern Nature below now.