“Emma Langford is a treasure in Ireland’s music scene”
– Louise Bruton, The Irish Times
“mature, assured and eminently listenable … frothing with melodic charm and lyrical intrigue”
– Folk Radio UK
“I absolutely love her music, and the way she thinks… She’s someone I hope to work with myself one day… I wish I’d discovered Emma Langford sooner; now I have all this catching up to do!”
– Janis Ian
“There was a restless curiosity and a cheeky inventiveness that took this Limerick lass far beyond cliché and into the genuinely exciting”
– The Greystones Guide
“A breath of fresh air”
– Phil Coulter
“You get the feeling that perhaps [A Song For My Younger Self] was written a little before her more recent rise in profile and success. Emma has worked hard for the success of her debut album and with a growing reputation as one of the best up and coming singer -songwriters on the island, she seems to be keeping up her end of the promises made in the song.” (The Thin Air)
Emma Langford is an award-winning nu-folk songwriter and performer; “nu”-folk because where her music largely incorporates facets of the folk idiom, her songs are clear samples of contemporary fusion with undeniable traces of jazz and pop.
A singer with a profound respect for her instrument, Langford risked losing her voice to vocal nodules at a young age and only in her early twenties, after rigorous vocal therapy and training was she in a position to begin honing her abilities. The artist completed both her BA specialising in voice and her MA in community music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance on the banks of the River Shannon in her hometown of Limerick, before embarking in 2017 on a whirlwind world-tour which continued up to 2019.
While 2020 saw things quieten down on the travel-front, she had in just four years already written and independently released two highly acclaimed full-band records, Quiet Giant (2017) and Sowing Acorns (2020), so the groundwork is well and truly laid for a bright future.
In 2018 Langford was named Best Emerging Folk Artist by our national broadcaster, RTÉ Radio 1, and in 2020 was shortlisted for the Best Folk Singer award in the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards.
Since first bursting onto the scene in 2016 with a crowd-funded self-titled EP, she’s hardly taken her foot off the pedal, with an eye-watering ever-growing tour schedule and frequent collaborations up her sleeve.
Arguably one of the finest songwriters and vocalists to emerge from Ireland in recent years, Emma Langford earned the title of Best Emerging Artist at the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards in 2018. Never one to rest on laurels, she has risen to that mantle and delivered consistently since. As part of an international tour, 2019 saw Langford make her US debut at the world’s largest celebration of Irish music, Milwaukee Irish Fest.
The Irish Times described her debut album Quiet Giant (2017) as ‘music that weaves a spell as you listen to it… An enduring piece of work’.
Emma’s spell-binding Quiet Giant features stunning full-band arrangements for 10 self-penned songs, and was released to great critical acclaim in late 2017. Following the album’s Irish release, she was invited to launch it internationally with Germany’s Irish Folk Festival tour.
Langford possesses a distinct natural tone and resonance that is truly breath-taking – and a razor-sharp tongue to boot. Her home-grown brazen wit and piercingly insightful lyrics have fused to produce the live on-stage energy for which the young artist has become so well known at home and abroad.
Noted too for a vocal timbre which dances playfully among the nuances of “folk”; Emma Langford’s voice is at once defiant and ethereal; her lyrics insightful, yet loaded with wit and whimsy. Comparisons are often drawn in style and sound to artists such as Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones and Janis Ian.
In 2018 the self-made Limerick songwriter completed a promotional tour across Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and Ireland to launch the record, yet as she posits in her own lyrics:
“Is this all you want? Is this all you need?”
Langford has hit her stride and shows no signs of slowing down, with her album Sowing Acorns receiving huge international praise, and glowing reviews from Irish radio and print media alike.
Her second album has been described by the Irish Times’ Tony Clayton-Lea as “compelling, charming and totally assertive”, and has seen her deservedly gain a steady flood of new converts.
While her 2017 release Quiet Giant could be said to be a coming-of-age record, Sowing Acorns is very much a declaration of who Emma Langford is and intends to be, the woman and the artist.
The songs on this album pivot on an axis of female strength and empowerment, but never shy away from vulnerability; she openly delves into personal encounters with grief, ambition, and broken relationships, while touching on other loose themes along the way. Regardless of whether the song drifts toward a folk or a pop sensibility, the common denominator throughout is Emma’s vocal range and tone, combined with strikingly observational and incisive lyrics.
In 2020 pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of a summer-long tour of Ireland, Germany, the UK and beyond; disappointed but undeterred, she has bounced back, and is working toward bringing her dazzling new collection of 13 warm and reflective songs to live venues as soon as physically possible.
2020, in spite of a global pandemic, seems to be Langford’s year.
Images: 1. Emma Langford poses in lamplight in the reading nook at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig; Credit: Conor Kerr 2. Emma Langford on stage at Limerick Summer Music 2019; Credit: Zyanya Lorenzo