They love Caro Emerald in Holland. They love her almost as much as they love trance DJs, bridges over canals, and tulips. Emerald’s debut album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor broke all kinds of records in Emerald’s native country, spending more time at Number 1 on the charts than a little album called Thriller by some bloke named Michael Jackson.
While she may not yet be a household name outside of the Netherlands right now, she’s garnered enough attention to sell out the Royal Albert Hall, become a staple fixture on Radio 2 and helped out Jools Holland on his Hootenanny. So it’s fair to say that The Shocking Miss Emerald pretty much deserves the soubriquet ‘eagerly-awaited’.
The secret to Emerald’s success is easy to identify from the very first notes of her second album. Like her closest comparison Imelda May, Emerald deals comfortably in a retro, nostalgic type of blues-tinged jazzy pop that’s been so successful for her contemporaries. Of course, she could be accused of playing it safe (it’s true that there are no real surprises to be found here) but there’s no denying that she does what she does very well indeed.
A dramatic orchestral flourish introduces the album before One Day pretty much summarises what Miss Emerald is all about – a sassy, brass-laden strut bearing more than a passing resemblance to Kirsty MacColl‘s In These Shoes. Tangled Up seems to be lined up to be Emerald’s big cross-over hit (bearing the name of a certain Guy Chambers on co-writing credits) and could well be a success – despite some lyrical clangers (“treating girls like a yo-yo is a no no of a monumental kind” anyone?) and some rather over-produced strings, it does have a certain kind of charm, and Ms Emerald splashes her personality all over the song whenever she opens her mouth.
At times, The Shocking Miss Emerald seems like a triumph of style over content – at 14 tracks, it’s rather too long (a trait in common with many albums these days, to be fair) and for every endearingly daft romp like Pack Up The Louie, there are moments of fluff like The Maestro which just serves to remind everyone that The Puppini Sisters were once inexplicably successful for a brief moment. Far better are the times when Emerald seems to emotionally connect with a song, such as Black Valentine, a beautifully yearning torch ballad, or the smouldering, classy rendition of Paris.
Stylishly retro and just on the right side of quirky, Caro Emerald fits well into the new breed of post-Amy Winehouse pop star, like Paloma Faith. While her music probably won’t appeal to everyone (and really, what music does?), there is a huge market for this modern spin on a classic sound. Although it may become too whimsical for some, there’s every chance that The Shocking Miss Emerald will see her repeat her staggering success at home on an international basis.