Emily Greene establishes her skill as a composer, but simultaneously embarrasses with her juvenile lyrics, making for an occasionally unlistenable debut release.
Emily Greene is one of a plethora of Berklee College of Music graduates who focuses predominantly on skilled, technical musicianship without showing any of the creative spark often found in someone who received no formal training. Greene’s debut, Is This What You Had in Mind, half-produced by Greene herself, is no exception. She rips through the album with a refreshing sound of Wurlitzer and Rhodes, instead of the more typical piano-and-acoustic-guitar combination that seems to be the staple sound for solo female artists these days. Unfortunately, inspiration is lacking, and instead we are graced with Greene writing very accurately composed songs, and then mimicking Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor, with sprinkles of Kelly Clarkson for good measure. The music here is all very pleasant, but forgettable, and occasionally even nauseating. The reason for this is almost entirely based on the horrendous lyrics. They read like the diary of a thirteen year old girl who believes that love is a Twilight film. Take, for instance, the opening lines on “Searching for the Words”: “Winter trees stand bare / Waiting for Spring’s repair / I’m betting on wishbone branches to see / Could I love again?" On “Love Myself First” Greene sings “My heart is telling me / To move away from here / I’ve got to grow / Got to show myself / I can get out of a rut / I can love myself first / It’s time for a life change / I’ve got to rearrange the way I go about loving you”. Perhaps this record would stand out in a way that I’m sure Greene is hoping it will, but these bad lyrics, which are, at times, unlistenable, make that unlikely. Greene herself should not be discounted completely as a composer, as there are genuine moments of musical awe on this record. One can only hope she shifts her focus from the precision of the music to the poetic content of the lyrics on her next effort.