Emma Hamel is a relatively new face on the music scene, but her potential for impact is already very evident. With a voice that sits somewhere between vulnerability and richness, and multi-instrumentalist skill, Hamel has in a short time proven that she has the ability to grab people's attention, connect to deeply felt emotions, and bypass the "awkward" stage that marks so many young artist's artistic development.
In the spring of 2020, Hamel gained attention for a solemn piano ballad written as a lament for her graduating class of 2020, not being able to celebrate in person with traditional graduation fanfare. The song gained a fairly sizeable audience on YouTube and Spotify, and was used by multiple schools across North America as part of online graduation ceremonies. Granted, she was already uploading occasional performance videos to her YouTube channel, but that upload rate accelerated after her graduation song.
Having garnered a fair bit of attention, Hamel recently announced her upcoming debut album, entitled Headspace, set for release on November 5, 2021. The first single I'm Not Here For You dropped today, and it immediately delivers tons of musical twists and turns. While maintaining a lot of the traditional piano balladry that first won her notoriety, this new song features multiple noticeable tempo changes, modal mixture, expanded instrumentation, subtle electronic textures, and the kind of hypnotic, Billie Eilish inspired surround-sound vocal production that has become so characteristic of Gen Z singers. Perhaps the most unexpected twist comes less than 30 seconds from the end of the song, with the sudden introduction of thickly distorted electric guitars with a tone that would typically sound more at home in sludge metal than in indie-alternative or folk-pop.
But it may be that we should have gathered from her first song back in 2020 that Emma Hamel was an artist capable of hitting us with surprises. Moving from the self-described "shy girl" to a semi-viral generational voice, and now jumping from musical minimalism to genre-warping ambition, she has proven with only two officially released songs that she simply cannot be put in a box. Now, with less than a month until her debut album drops, Hamel has perhaps inadvertently set the bar quite high for herself.
But all signs currently point to that being a very good thing.
More about Emma Hamel:
Location: Berrien Springs, MI, USA
Genre: Pop / Indie / Alternative