Release Date: Feb 26, 2016
Record label: Chemikal Underground
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The third solo outing from the ex-Delgados vocalist, In Search of Harperfield is Emma Pollock's most revealing and adventurous set of songs to date, a lustrous and heartbreaking home movie of a record that makes aging, death, and melancholy feel positively vital. Pollock's post-Delgados output has kept mostly in line with the group's predilection for orchestral, cinematic post-rock, due in part to some pristine production and arranging work from husband and ex-Delgado Paul Savage, and the lovingly crafted In Search of Harperfield is no exception. Easily her finest work to date, the 11-track LP is as emotionally cohesive as it is narratively vague, with Pollock's rich and stately voice guiding the listener through a litany of hardships that touch on everything from illness and motherhood to the cruel slap of adolescence.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Although Emma Pollock has founded and worked with numerous bands in the past, her solo discography is fast becoming the collection that will leave a lasting imprint on the industry. The Scottish singer/songwriter merges intimate poeticism with a grander vision as to what her alternative sounds can be through crafted production and intelligent instrumentation.
It’s been five years since we last heard from Emma Pollock, and it’s clear from the outset that In Search Of Harperfield is something of a labour of love. Her third album since her former band The Delgados split over ten years ago, the title comes from the name of the first house that her parents bought together, and it was inspired by the deaths of both her mother and grandmother, estranged for most of their lives, but who died within seven hours of each other last year. Inevitably, there are feelings of sadness and regret all over this album, but it’s not necessarily a depressing listen.
On Emma Pollock’s confident third solo album she delves deep into her past, considering and expressing a multitude of emotions over 11 songs. That striking cover art is, in fact, a photo of Pollock’s father Guy Pollock, working the land near Blair Atholl, while ‘Harperfield’ is the name of the first house that he and her late mother Kathleen bought as a young married couple. Although In Search of Harperfield may not engage itself quite as directly with Pollock’s heritage as its title and cover art suggest - the lyrics here tend to be impressionistic rather than of a narrative bent - there’s a real sense of weight and history to these songs, directly stemming from Pollock’s contemplation of such themes.
Devotees of former indie magicians The Delgados will find much to love in Emma Pollock's third solo album since her revered band amicably split in 2005. The album's name refers to the first house bought by Pollock's parents after they married, and the pervading theme is a woman trying to make sense of the world she came from, a rural idyll of half remembered childhood memory, now returned to at a time of deep reflection on life, love and family. Musically, Pollock retains the melodic chamber-pop elegance of her earlier songwriting, while stretching percussive chops and building an expansive darkness on songs like Old Ghosts.
It's difficult to believe it's been more than five years since Emma Pollock's last solo release, given her seeming omnipresence as a lynchpin of Scottish indie music. But despite the interval separating 2010's The Law Of Large Numbers and new record In Search Of Harperfield, she can hardly be accused of indolence. Between her work with the influential Chemikal Underground Records, which this year turns 21, an increasing presence at the thriving Chem 19 studios, and the declining health of her parents, life has been hectic and sometimes hard.
When Emma Pollock sinks her teeth into a theme, she explores its every facet. On In Search of Harperfield, her third solo foray into orchestral pop, the former Delgados singer uses her lavish voice and sharp wit to carve finer details into her family tree. "Harperfield" is a reference to Pollock's childhood home, which acts as a physical shell for the themes encased within the album.