It Will Come Easier is the first full length solo release from Emma Kupa of the Mammoth Penguins after the Home Cinema EP and it’s an album of tracks that can be sparse and emotionally exposed as well as rich, well-rounded and fun. Emma Kupa’s voice is the core of the album and if you are familiar with her other work you will know that it’s a voice that can lambast as well as lament. This is a voice unadorned by the usual vocalist trappings of reverb or delay and only on the track ‘Another No’ (from which the album’s title is taken) is the vocal doubled. The overall effect is that Kupa is singing straight into you with a directness that is often echoed in the lyric: “Are you in love with someone or are you in love with the attention? Does she do this to everyone, are you the rule or the exception?” (the opening line of the album).
The songs range from paired back to full band so you can have the strum of an acoustic guitar and the crinkle of a banjo or the mournful resonance of strings on a song like ‘Hey Love’ but then get the swampy-feel of ‘CP Reprise’, Kupa’s tuneful bass playing or the fuzzed-up solo at the end of ‘Nawlins’ which sounds like someone tasered Roger McGuinn. There isn’t a weak track here, but there were three stand out tracks which demonstrated the album’s sonic range: ‘Nothing At All’, which starts with a jaunty acoustic guitar and ‘padda-padda’ drum beat and Kupa seemingly singing to herself “can’t keep talking like that, can’t keep carrying it round. What am I supposed to do? What can I even do?”. It builds through an excellent guitar riff, lush harmonies and a bridge of string stabs to a crescendo which brings in everything and everyone. ‘No Easy Way Out’ is a paced Van Etten-esque track with a fantastic chorus and, like many of the songs, has the feel of sung diary entries tapping into what Emma Kupa calls “the trials and tribulations of attempting to navigate the crossroads of your early thirties”. The closing song ‘Crying Behind The Marque’ is a song in a room with nothing but a naked lightbulb and a lone harmony to keep the coffee, nicotine and regret company.
The production is a delight letting the voice shine through and never get crowded out by the arrangements. It’s like an acoustic album from The Beths and sits in the same space as folk-without-a-finger-in-its-ear favourites This Is The Kit or Rachael Dadd. The album also features contributions from several guests including fellow penguins and the talented Faith Taylor from Suggested Friends (who I once saw deliver a great set supporting Sumie at the Lakeside Theatre, Colchester).
It Will Come Easier is a joy from start to finish and Emma Kupa should feel rightly proud of a set of songs that weave musical magic with lyrical depth in the storytelling. Amid the search for meaning and questioning of head versus heart runs a rich vein of hope which shines through everything and lights up the album and this should help us all as the night’s draw in and we transition from the heat of summer to the leaf-strewn streets of Autumn.
Review by Paul F Cook