Stephen Thomas’ 1st Annual Hg Music Prize – The Winner
It’s been a long slog down here at the WWL Secret Bunker. The last few days have seen our sleep deprived judges up 24/7 around a table once used by Winston Churchill, all in the name of judging popular music. One of us even had a breakdown, running through the dark, dank corridors screaming ‘I am Neville Chamberlain! Hear me roar!’
It’s all been worth it, though. The winner of our first annual Hg Music Prize has been decided upon and we couldn’t be happier to announce that the winner of both our respect and a whole pint of a beer or cider of their choice* is the delightful Emmy the Great, for her marvellous debut album ‘First Love’!
For many of us, the release of ‘First Love’ was comparable to an old friend coming back into town. We knew many of the tracks – we had been following Emmy for upwards of three years, and knew her songbook so well we could comment before the album was even released on the tracks we were surprised were not present on the listing (‘Gabriel’) and those that we were shocked never to have heard of (‘Easter Parade 2′).
I bought ‘First Love’ the day it came out – it felt not only nice but also important that there were still debut albums that people thought worthy of a first day physical purchase. I came home and I sat on my bed, put the CD in my radio and picked up my book to read as I listened. I soon realised that it was going to be impossible to pay full attention to both album and novel, and so I swapped the latter for the liner notes.
I read the lyrics, and let the words and the music come together around me. I remember being struck by even the songs I knew best. Everything sounded so different, full and alive. ‘We Almost Had A Baby’ took my breath away. So did the next track, ‘Easter Parade’ – a song I knew so well I thought I could never be taken aback by it.
By the end of the album I had had my breath taken away so often I should have been panting. When I wrote up my shortlist, I honestly hadn’t a clue who would win – how I was going to choose between Emmy, Camera Obscura, God Help The Girl, I didn’t know. As I listened to each album again, through headphones, eyes closed, it became clearer – but not much.
It was a tough decision – do not think that my enthusiasm for ‘First Love’ is not echoed in anyway by my enthusiasm for ‘Chasing Lights’ or ‘Man Of Aran’ – but I’m glad that between my friends and I Emmy arose a clear winner. Well done, Emmy. You deserve it.
The Top Half-Dozen:
1. ‘First Love’ – Emmy the Great
2. ‘The Sleeper’ – The Leisure Society
3. ‘My Maudlin Career’ – Camera Obscura
4. ‘Man Of Aran’ – British Sea Power
5. ‘God Help The Girl’ – God Help The Girl
6. ‘Blue Roses’ – Blue Roses
*Pub, Emmy? Whenever you like – I’m down in Sussex, East Grinstead way if you’re ever in town!