Emma Ruth Rundle - Orpheus Looking Back

14 Apr 2022 - Thorsten

Indie-Rock, Folk | Sargent House | Release date: 25 Mar 2022

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Is quality more important than quantity? Who gives a … if you talk about Emma Ruth Rundle, as it seems that she has never released anything just slightly mediocre. Take this short three-track digital EP Orpheus Looking Back - less than nine minutes but they are enrapturing as anything she has done before!

2021 saw the release of her fifth full-length, Engine Of Hell (whose follow-up is going to be released soon!), the single release of the bonus disc of her collab with Thou, The Helm of Sorrow and several single-song collaborations, for example with Chelsea Wolfe and Marissa Nadler. And now, just between the her two full-lengths, we get this three-song EP, which highlight one thing that everybody loves about ERR: Her simple, yet highly effective guitar performance and her mighty, strong yet fragile, delicate vocals.

It’s often the little things in her songs that make them stand out, the scratchy parts in ”St. Non” (ever heard of a more enigmatic yet telling name?!), the pump organ in the track of the same name, the warmth of the guitar picking intro to ”Gilded Cage”. The latter is accompanied by a heavy “riff” on the acoustic guitar, so one can easily imagine what the song would sound like with the support of a full band, just heavy and yet so simple.

”Pump Organ Song” sounds like a bridge between Anna von Hausswolff and ERR as the organ is played so wonderfully warm that it borders on ambient. That is an effect that you simply deny as it grabs you by the heart, pulls at it and then…embraces you. A song to feel at home in.

When thinking about the title of this EP it is a wonderful twist on the old myth: Orpheus lost his wife and he followed her down into the underworld where he was able to persuade Hades, the god of the underworld, to give him back his wife. The only condition he had to fulfill was to lead his wife upwards again but never turn back to look at her, which he did because of being unsure about her following. Emma now takes up this idea and talks about that one moment, when Orpheus looks back, so in some way, she is picking up the part of Eurydike who is lost to the underworld when her husband looks back again. Everybody is sad for him, everybody concentrates on him – but what about her? Here we can have a look at the whole procedure from a female point of view. How must it have been, when she was told she could go back into the world of the living if he leads her and doesn’t look down – but then the fool does exactly that? Is it a moment of utter, inner destruction or is it a moment of relief for not having to follow him again? Of sadness for losing him again or of triumph for not needing to obey him anymore? That depends largely on your point of view, I guess.

Something that does not depend on the individual point of view is the fact that this EP is nothing but wonderful, warm and welcoming. Everyone who has loved any of her numerous releases will love this one as well, as it is 100% Emma Ruth Rundle. Come on, let the next album come quickly!