Somebody’s Story is the latest release from British artist Emma Ballantine. The EP is a work that captures truthful narratives from real people around the world and expresses them through folky, atmospheric pop. Through Your Eyes is the last track from the EP to be revealed, providing a glance at the perspective of a fourteen year old autistic boy, James. Including samples of his own work, the song credits James as co-composer and co-creator with beat-boxer Max Bent, and was released in preparation for World Autism Awareness Day (2nd April). On choosing James’ story, Ballantine has said that she “hope(s) it challenges preconceptions and shows that perhaps people with autism have a clearer appreciation of things and a deeper wisdom than people without.” The EP is set to release on the 9th of April.
Secret Tunnel, a track originating from a story about moving on from a distressing court case, begins in Ballantine’s lower register. The changing rhythms and intense vocal layering in the last chorus were great ways of highlighting the emotional atmosphere of the lyrics. I was impressed by Ballantine’s vocal prowess during the verses of Harmonise. It takes great skill to make those leaps from low to high seem effortless. There were also some surprising chords in the track that made the tune sound modal, an interesting way of representing the story behind the lyrics (a chance meeting at a dive bar in Chicago).
Astronaut (inspired by a trip to Kenya taken because of live at first sight) uses thinner musical layering than the previous tracks. The third verse is a short instrumental passage which continued the underlying percussive vibe of the whole song. This trend was continued in Through Your Eyes, with a heavily percussive piano used in the opening phrase. This track actually reminded me of Debussy’s La Cathédrale Engloutie (The Submerged Cathedral) because of its heavy atmosphere juxtaposed with Ballantine’s subtle floating vocal harmonies. Part of me wished there was an extra thirty seconds of the track where she could experiment with her higher register.
Somebody’s Story is a project that aims to capture emotions and moments in people’s lives, expressing them through melody, harmony and rhythm to create a bridge between people from all over the world. Each of the tracks were well constructed, musically and lyrically, and effectively used sounds and atmospheres to heighten the impact of the narratives. I give the EP 9.5/10.