Stage One of Rockwood Music Hall was small and quaint, featuring a piano and an array of red and purple lights. The crowd sat with their backs to a panel of floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating the entire room. Emily Wolf, statuesque and blonde-bobbed, entered the bar venue, greeting everyone with a bright smile and cheerful hello. Old friends and prospective fans alike warmed to her soft British accent with ease. The audience was abuzz with quiet anticipation of the release of her new self-identified ‘neosoul’ EP, Re-Covers. Consisting of a guitar, bass, trumpet, and percussions, The Emily Wolf PROJECT took to the stage and began their set.
London-born and raised in a household with an acclaimed jazz musician father, Emily Wolf was exposed to all kinds of music at a very early age. “I wasn’t originally intending to follow him with that,” she explains when asked about her decision to become a musician. “But I feel more relaxed when I’m doing music.”
She studied jazz abroad during her university career in order to learn another language and apply it to her singing. “I wanted to distinguish myself,” she states confidently. After many vocal and musical successes in university, Emily decided that it was her time to move to New York City. She describes New York as “the place that you can find your own self,” allowing her to relax and grow as a performer and artist.
With musical influences ranging from Erykah Badu and her “jazz/soul crossover” to Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin, Emily has a hard time pinpointing exactly her style of music. “Jazz soul fusion,” she ultimately decides after giving it some thought. While watching her perform, it becomes evident that, similar to her voice, her musical style consistently changes subconsciously, subtly, and cohesively. Re-Covers, her second EP, covers four songs, all from different eras. As her intention was to cover songs that spoke to her personally, the songs which she covers are not typical. The Emily Wolf PROJECT setlist was comprised of covers from the likes of TLC, D’Angelo’s latest album, Amy Winehouse, and the reggae artist Dennis Brown.
On stage, Emily’s nonchalant mannerisms gives one the impression that performing comes all too naturally to her. Her sound, rooted in her throat, provides the husky allure of a meticulously practiced jazz singer. Her voice is smooth; a blues-y, jazzy, timeless voice that fills the entire room. The medley of instruments pairs perfectly with her soulful attitude. The trumpet is surprisingly prominent yet soft, transporting the audience back to a time when music was more tranquil, the theme of the night. It’s pure magic.
After two covers from her latest EP, Emily moves to the back of the stage where she takes a seat at the piano to perform one of her original songs, ‘Love For Me,’ from her album of the same name. The audience becomes transfixed on her raw lyrics and rich voice. Her presence is coy, confident, and unabashedly possessive of true star quality. She performs another original song, ‘If I Fell in Love With You,’ from her mixtape Your Move later on in the night. Her lyrics are dreamy, wistful, and melodiously therapeutic. “I wrote this song a few years ago,” she says of ‘If I Fell in Love With You’ with a sly smile, “about exploring the unique dating world of New York City.” Each song, unique in its own way, holds the same enchanting, rhythmic feel. As her trumpet player stated about their sound later on in the evening, they don’t “fit neatly in any one box.” Instead, they “meld jazz, reggae, soul, and pop into a seamless brew.”
Re-Covers, available here , is beautifully composed and passionately executed. Her EP’s cover photography was done by Alex Szymczak. Emily’s voice captivates without being intrusive. Her sound is timeless, sultry, and smooth, a unique blend of blues, jazz, funk, soul, reggae, and anything else that she wants it to be. Her effortless vocals in conjunction with the subaqueous instrumentals is an ageless combination.
When asked what The Emily Wolf PROJECT meant to her, Emily looked as though she was letting the world in on a small secret that she had been keeping to herself. “The Emily Wolf Project,” she says with a slight grin, “is my project to find my sound.” And she seems to be well on her way to doing just that.
Be sure to check out their upcoming shows here!
By Taylor Haacke