Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, CA
Emily Wells is something else. She's one of those artists who's a magician, or a magician who's actually an artist. She fascinates you with everything she's doing, every word that she's singing, the way she's singing those words, what she does with her hands, what she doesn't do with her hands. She simply fascinates you with her being, with the biggest spirit you've ever seen packed into such a tiny woman. As far as I'm concerned, she's as deep as a well and as tall as the oldest fallen tree in the Petrified Forest.
A song such as "Don't Use Me Up," doesn't generate itself out of just any old person. It comes from someone holding onto something incredibly special, someone so comfortable with their endless talents that it's scary. No weird analogies, no rambling description does Wells and her work any justice whatsoever. She flew down from Portland to San Francisco for the afternoon for this taping at the end of February and it's the one session that we haven't been able to keep out of our minds since then. It's when you see such a craftsman that you literally get stopped in your tracks and you go blind. You get dizzy and light-headed and you wonder what she's doing to you. It's just that you're not used to such construction, to such interesting turns from a full band and then you regain your sight and remember that it's just her. She's doing all of it herself - looping vocals upon vocals and playing all kinds of odds and ends - and just letting it fly. She's got no help at all. It's just her and the sweet fires and breezes she's dreamed up, wherever she does her dreaming. She sings, "Everything is easier when you wash it down/All your friends are your best friends when you wash it down/Go meet the devil/Go meet Jesus/When you wash it down/When you wash it down/Don't tear me off/I got no strings attached so don't tear me off/Don't let me go/I wanna hold you back so don't let me go/Everything is brighter when you wash it down/All your friends are your best friends when you wash it down," on "Don't Use Me Up." We just take it in and wash it down, as she advises. To say any more would be spoiling it for you. Just listen.