“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
Hi, My name is Emma Langford I'm a singer, a songwriter, and a performing artist from Limerick in Ireland, and I've just released my second album, Sowing Acorns.
To take you back a little and explain how I got here, I grew up in a creative family who nurtured and celebrated my constant desire to perform... Until I almost lost my voice to vocal nodules when I was about 12. My mother wasted no time in finding out what we needed to do to remedy the situation - she saw how miserable croaking my way through my favourite songs was making me; she knew I was in for a rough few years, and possibly surgery if it got worse, so we did what needed to be done. I went song-less for a couple of years while I had vocal therapy and coaching and learned to respect my instrument and use it properly. I think it's important to share that starting point, as I have it to thank for being here now.
I was finishing up my undergrad degree in UL when I cracked out my guitar and a big fat folder full of song sheets in front of the late Lulu's Cafe in Limerick City in 2013 - it was my first and only regular gig. My dad sketching away in a corner was usually my "crowd".
One sunny day, a nice man who it turned out was one of the most proficient and prolific pianists in Limerick at the time strolled by, told me I had something worth sharing, and suggested I check out the open mic at the Wicked Chicken on Thursday night, so I did.
That's where I got booked for my first gigs - actual gigs - the types that paid money and involved a microphone and an audience.
In 2017 I got a Facebook message from Beoga's Niamh Dunne: "Are you finished in college this summer? Or would you be up for taking a few weeks off work? We've worked with a German agent for the last 12 years and..." I got booked to play my first international tour - I signed the contract in March, and needed a full album recorded and printed by September in time to head off in October.
Sure feck it, to cut the rest of a long story short: Quiet Giant was born. Amid many sleepless nights while also finishing a thesis for my Masters degree at UL, and with a lot of help and support, I managed it. I took off on tour in October, and despite staring at my own face in the mirror in shock most mornings over the last three years... I haven't stopped to look back. And here I am, in the autumn of 2020, with an RTÉ Folk Award (2018) under my belt and a brand new second album just released...
“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 hails from Limerick in the South-West of Ireland.
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’s sound is made to be heard live, be it solo or with a full complement of musicians. She 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 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 whirlwind 100-date 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 second album Sowing Acorns receiving huge international praise, and glowing reviews from Irish radio and print media alike.
Her sophomore 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.
Earlier this year, pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of a summer-long tour of Germany, the UK and beyond; disappointed but undeterred, she has bounced back, and is bringing a dazzling new collection of 13 warm and reflective songs to venues around Ireland and beyond in the coming months.
2020, in spite of a global pandemic, seems to be Langford’s year.
Images: 1. With my new pal James OR on a family holiday in Spain, 2001 2. Outside Lulu's Cafe, Catherine Street, Limerick, 2013 3. Joining Socks in the Frying Pan on stage at TheaterHaus, Stuttgart, 2017; Credit: Gregor Eisenhuth 4. Emma Langford poses in lamplight in the reading nook at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig; Credit: Conor Kerr 5. Emma Langford on stage at Limerick Summer Music 2019; Credit: Zyanya Lorenzo