Photography by Rachel Winslow
BIOMarriage and career have failed to make Emily Jane Powers feel settled. Her new album Restless, written during a period of what Powers describes as "restlessness and discontent" is a bracingly intimate meditation on the strains that monogamy, work, and family place on identity and desire. Whether she's leading a hard-charging rock arrangement or singing quietly to herself, Restless is united by a confrontational level of honesty and vulnerability.
The product of three years of writing, arranging, performing, and rearranging, Restless is a diverse but cohesive statement. Much of the record is heavy on Powers' looped and layered guitar, which has simultaneously grown more formally ambitious and somehow more slangily loose. But there are moments of quiet piano, lush woodwinds, and soaring strings. Sonically, listeners will hear touches of everything from Courtney Love to Sade, but unified by the emotional intensity of Fiona Apple or Cat Power.
Powers' music has been a well-kept secret for over a decade. New listeners who stumble upon her back catalog will be overwhelmed by its size and richness. Starting in Michigan in the early 2000's, Emily wrote and recorded an album nearly every year, honing a bedroom pop sound that was simultaneously lush, intimate, and playful. Fiercely independent, her albums were generally DIY in spirit and technique, reaching perfection with 2009's Undertone, a joyfully luxuriant assembly of sugary and multilayered pop. 2014's Part of Me introduced a more collaborative and polished approach, paving the way for the sonically-intimate and emotional explorations of 2018's Restless.
Restless, was recorded by Erik Hall (In Tall Buildings) and features performances from Jenn Romero (The Jellies), Chris Smith (Luno), Alec Jensen and Eric Brummitt (Dream Version).