Emma Russack: Permanent Vacation

- Emma Russack’s new album Permanent Vacation is a mixed bag. No novice songwriter, this is Russack’s fourth album and it shows. Recorded in just three days, the music is as diverse as it is simple. Many of the songs fail to breach the three-minute mark, while encapsulating singular musical motifs. The instrumentation is sparse with percussion absent on about the half the tracks. Ultimately the light arrangements highlight Russack’s songwriting, leaving raw imprints of lyrics instead of vague remembrances of rhythms or riffs.

Having written the album during a period of self-professed ‘guilt-free’ idling; the album is steeped in rumination and self-reflection. The result is a record that goes off on acute tangents – musically and lyrically. There are stark differences from track to track from the timbre to the tone of the lyrics. Songs such as Idealisation and Dream Man seem almost silly next to heavy-hitters such as Free Things and The Way. Understandably, it's those heavy-hitters leave the deepest impression. Fifth track, Free Things is an affecting piano ballad in the spirit of bands like Elbow or The National. However, despite the wide variety of music, the album is void of any serious crescendos, instead opting to remain even-keeled from beginning to end. This is not a bad thing — in fact, it only intensifies the intimacy of this sincerely personal offering.

Single, Everybody Cares is another standout. Conjuring other Australian artists, Courtney Barnett or Jess Locke, it’s a dreary anthem for dwellers of dark bars. Along with penultimate track The Way, final track All My Dreaming caps off the album on a somber note with ambient electric guitar and Russack’s serene voice echoing to the conclusion of this off-kilter affair. An ode to the minimalistic approach, Permanent Vacation is a simple collection of, well, simple songs. As such, a lot of it seems like filler, but the handful of great songs that drive the album are worth the price of admission. The only problem is you won’t want to leave.

- Jonathan Cloumassis.

Album Details

Album Title: Permanent Vacation
Artist: Emma Russack
Record Label: (Spunk)