The promotional posters for East Side Story boast the tagline: 'beyond definition.' I don't think I could put it much better than that. Emily King fuses many different genres like jazz, hip hop, R&B, pop and even reggae to produce some great music that sounds quite different from anything else out there at the moment. The album reminds me a bit of Lauryn Hill's Miseducation in that aspect. King's voice is light, soulful and bluesy and unlike many in the business, she chooses to use some live instrumentation, which truly brings a new dimension to the music. The whole album sounds very 'live' and heart-felt.
As ashamed as I am to say this, the first time I heard of this wonderful artist was on the website for the TV show, Charm School. I listened to the first single "Walk In My Shoes" and instantly fell in love with the song. The thumping bassline and the crisp rimshot with Emily's emotional delivery of the "you don't know what I've been through" type of lyrics made a perfect track.
The rest of the album, I am glad to say, is equally great. "Colorblind" is a heart-wrenching autobiographical tale of the troubles of growing up bi-racial. "Alright" is a nice inspirational mid-tempo. "U & I" is an old school soul throwback love song with beautiful harmonies and production. "Hold Me," one of my favorite tracks, is a reggae-influenced song of infatuation. King delivers an emotionally-charged cover of the classic, "Ain't No Sunshine." "You Can Get By" encourages a woman to leave an abusive realtionship going nowhere. "E Melody" is catchy. "It Was You" is a painful breakup song and the production matches the sentiment. "Moon" is layered with lush guitars and vocals. Ms. King gives some political commentary on "Business Man," which--if I'm not mistaken-- points the finger directly at owners of diamond mines in Africa. "Never Be Lonely" is another one of my favorite tracks. The song has a great horn section at the end and it tells of the classic "I-want-you-back" tale. "Ride With Me" is a relaxing gospel/reggae/soul mid-tempo. The album ends in a version of "Walk In My Shoes" with an added verse by Lupe Fiasco. His rhyming is excellent, but I still prefer the original.
Overall, this is an excellent album from a very talented artist who is here to stay. Her music and subject matter is highly varied. The production and songwritng is great, as well. I highly recommend it. (By the way, this is not an EP like the page says. It's a full-length album.)