EMA - Exile in the Outer Ring (LP)

Exile in the Outer Ring
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After the success of 2011'€™s Past Life Martyred Saints and 2014'€™s prophetic The Future'€™s Void, EMA retreated to a basement in Portland, Oregon - a generic apartment complex in a non-trendy neighbourhood, with beige carpeting and cheap slat blinds. Now, she returns, with a portrait of The Outer Ring: A pitch-black world of dark night highways, American flags hung over basement windows, jails and revival meetings and casinos and rage. In a year dominated by white working-class alienation and anger, EMA - a Midwesterner who never lost her thousand-yard stare - has delivered an album that renders Middle American poverty and resentment with frightening realism and deep empathy.

The album is a return to EMA'€™s roots in the noise-folk outfit Gowns, whose 2007 album Red State prefigured many of Exile'€™s core themes, along with its mix of stripped-back folk. The album is unique in its mingling of gender politics with American working-class anxiety. The voices we hear in these songs - druggy, surly societal outcasts; Byronic nihilists bringing down fire - speak to a kind of rebellion that'€™s typically reserved for men, and the archetype of the "€œdirtbag teenage boy"€ dominates the album. Yet EMA claims some of that same dirtbag alienation for women - "a woman who swallowed a scumbag teen boy whole,"€ as EMA puts it  and uses it to interrogate both her own vulnerability and how male violence shapes the world.

The result is a deeply personal, confrontational, but ultimately redemptive album from a quintessentially American artist at the peak of her form.
Tracklist:

1. 7 Years
2. Breathalyzer
3. I Wanna Destroy
4. Blood and Chalk
5. Down and Out
6. Fire Water Air LSD
7. Aryan Nation
8. 33 Nihilistic and Female
9. Receive Love
10. Always Bleeds
11. Where the Darkness Began