Pitchfork Fest Friday Preview: EMA

Videos by American Songwriter

Not since Cat Power started covering Robert Johnson’s “Come In My Kitchen” has there been such a thoroughly bone-chilling female deconstruction of the blues  master’s work as EMA’s “Kind Heart.” EMA, nee Erika M. Anderson of California by-way-of South Dakota and formerly of noise bands Amps For Christ and Gowns, released Past Life Martyred Saints in May on Souterrain Transmissions, while “Kind Heart” came out as the b-side to first single “The Grey Ship.”

“Kind Heart” starts off drone-y and dreadfully tuneless, which is all part of the act. By the time EMA is a few minutes into the 16-minute track, she’s harmonizing with herself, making one of Johnson’s most exquisitely bizarre lines uniquely her own: “She studies evil all the time.” After ten minutes, you won’t even recognize “Kind Hearted Woman” anymore. It’s pure blues-rock adrenaline. EMA takes the Pitchfork stage on Friday at 3:30.

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