Quirky Portland siren Emilia Dahlin is back this month with Rattle Them Bones, a brand new album that has her up to her old tricks. Emilia takes to music the way trendy shoppers take to flea markets, picking through the discarded past and assembling a genre-bending ensemble that is both vintage and entirely new. What is most endearing about this approach is she shows no particular loyalty to any musical form. She tries them on because they call to her, sees where they can take her, then moves on to something new. With this album, she is showing an increasing willingness to take risks. Whereas in the past her guitar and accordion have plied the relatively calm waters of samba, jazz, and folk, on this album she drops a bona fide sea shanty and, surprisingly, it’s good. I’ve had it stuck in my head for three days now and I’m actually okay with that. I can’t say when the last time that happened was.
Unfortunately this is the last we’ll see of Emilia for some time. She’s about to embark on a year-long trip around the world doing service projects and writing songs along the way. She has two shows scheduled before then, however, so catch her while you can. The first might be her biggest ever. On Saturday April 18, she is opening for folk-icon Ani DiFranco at the Skowhegan Opera House. With her own label, Righteous Babe Records, Ani has served as fairy godmother for many off-the-beaten-path musicians, so this is a huge break. While no one is talking record deal, it’s good to see the right people know her name.
Her second show is at SPACE in Portland on Friday, April 24. It’s the Rattle Them Bones official release party and your first opportunity to get your hands on the album. Until then, partake of the tracks below. If you enjoy these, make sure to check out her last album God Machine which pays homage to my favorite oddity in New England history, 19th century spiritualist John Murray Spear’s robot messiah. If that’s not eclectic, I don’t know what is.