Album Review: Emma Bradley – Perfumed By You EP

[TMWRK; 2021]

There is something uniquely satisfying about the notion of bedroom-studio crafted music. For an industry known for its pretentious, elitist barriers, home-grown music can be a healthy breath of fresh air. With the rise of new technologies and ever-cheaper equipment, becoming an independent musician has never been easier. As a result, home-grown talent is flourishing. London-based Emma Bradley is one of many such voices to have emerged, and the singer-songwriter perfectly epitomises the shift. Her music captures that low-key, sought-after DIY aesthetic, with her social media featuring frequent posts of covers recorded behind her home microphone.

The four-track Perfumed By You is the 22-year-old’s first major project. A selection of quaint, minimalist tracks, it totals no longer than 13 minutes in length. Yet, despite its brevity, the EP’s deeply personal tone manages to showcase different sides of Bradley, and what emerges is a sense of her true self.   

Bradley cites film scores as her inspiration for “Malibu”, and there is undoubtedly something cinematic about this shimmering track. Bradley’s qualities are brilliantly showcased here; the polished, archaic piano combined with a vivid vocal delivery create a truly atmospheric piece of music. “Malibu” is less about the tropical Californian coast and more to do with the irreplaceable experience of cherished friendship. Rather than honing in on a particular musical genre, “Malibu” offers an insight into what Bradley can achieve when she is simply focusing on her relationships.

The highlight throughout is Bradley’s vocal performance. Her soft, intimate, delivery has a transcendent quality. But not all the tracks are as compelling. “Perfumed By You”, the title track, contains similar instrumentation to “Malibu”, yet does not reach the heights of the latter. “Over and Out” drifts into a tranquil monotony with its forgettable lyrics. Bradley’s vocal performance fails to stand out here, showing how much of the EP relies on the strengths of the songwriter’s delivery. On the third track, “I’ll Be Outside”, Bradley opts for a Clairo-esque bedroom pop sound. It’s a pleasant listen, but leaves the listener wanting more.

Perfumed By You is both tantalizing and half-baked at the same time. “Malibu”, in particular, hints at possible greatness to come, but for now can only wonder what Bradley will achieve when she casts asides her risk-averse tendencies. While the safety of the bedroom studio has served her well in these early stages, it’ll be interesting to hear where she can go when she steps outside that comfort zone.