Frida Kahlo once said that she painted self-portraits “because I am the person I know best”, as is the case with Emma Langford’s Sowing Acorns. An intimate portrait of an artist whose grasp on who and where they are now, flows through intricate, self-reflective songwriting, cathartic vocals and widescreen production.
“Til your eyes find me I’m strong as my bones. Til then here I stand, I am strong as my bones” begins Sowing Acorns with a lone-standing mantra that grows with the addition of breath-taking harmonies (provided by Langford, Ruth Smith, Alma Kelliher, Sadhbh O’Sullivan, Jess Leen, Cari Q and Niamh Farrell) akin to the ethereal Clannad. This striking choice of album opener finds Langford clearly establishing her growth as an artist via a stylistically bold sonic palette.
This vocally thematic twist that lies at the heart of Sowing Acorns can be found throughout. On track’s such as ‘A Song For My Younger Self’, Langford voice, lyrical honesty and tightly woven harmonies are given the room to be heard on lines like “I work every day to make her proud, her voice was broken, so I sing aloud”. While the reaching closing moments of ‘Mariana’ are given a soft backdrop of strings to rest upon before the gentle closing note.
Sowing Acorns also finds a way to contrast the repose of interludes like ‘Port Na BPúcaí’ with the powerful finale of the title-track and the rhythmic shuffle of ‘Sailor’s Wife’. Add to this the stylistic twist of the jangled and playful ‘Goodbye Hawaii’ or the cathartic and forthright ‘You Are Not Mine’ (This Song Isn’t About, You Lying Bollix)’, and scope of Emma Langford songwriting comes to the fore with each additional layer.
And so it goes, much like Kahlo’s vivid self-portraits Sowing Acorns finds Emma Langford absorbing her experiences and the world around her to provide us with a view into her own prism. The record never settles on one specific sound but instead decides to incorporate music as a way to convey the meaning. And it’s the meaning and message that is most essential. From song to song, we find out who and where Emma Langford is right now while the artist herself alludes to more growth to come.