Pop singer/songwriter Eemia is from the small town of Clitheroe in the North-West of England. When she was only 18 she moved to London and began working with various other writers and producers. In 2012 she performed at the Olympic Village, singing for the athletes throughout the Summer Olympics. She also worked as a background vocalist on Leona Lewis’ critically-acclaimed album Glass Heart.
During the past year Eemia has been gigging around London and writing the songs that appear on Shy, which she co-produced with Danny Andrews. The EP will be released on the 16th of March and, trust us, it’s the first MUST-HAVE pop EP of the year. In fact, it’s better than many of the full-length pop albums we’ve heard so far this year, including those we’ve given rave reviews to.
The EP opens with the uplifting title track, “Shy,” which was the first single from the EP, and it’s an entirely blissful earworm of a song. We’re totally in love with her bright and soulful voice here, along with the song’s delicious, up-tempo beats, which are ripe for cheerleading — or dancing — evoking Toni Basil’s beloved classic “Mickey.” Of all the songs on the EP, this one is the most immediately infectious and radio-friendly, making it the perfect opener.
The R&B-flavored ballad “Here We Are” begins with beautiful piano and soon adds little electro-flourishes along with snappy beats. “Pick me up from the floor,” she sings before begging her lover to stay with her. “Here we are / Here we a-a-a-a-a-are / And I can’t break free / I won’t start running,” goes part of the riveting chorus. And the way she sings the second “are” is truly amazing, like one of those magical Alicia Keys or Mariah Carey moments where they hit a note perfectly and it’s so endearing and otherwise emotional that you feel tears swelling up inside you when you listen to it. Of course, this particular song is a depressing sort of ballad, but sometimes those are the best. It’s the sad songs we listen to over and over when we’re going through a break up and this one is perfect for a break up playlist.
“Boxed” opens with moody synth and piano. Once Eemia starts singing, somewhat gloomy strings enter the picture. Before long, they’re joined by loud, hammering beats that are sure to catch your attention. “Where’s the love in your eyes?” she sings. “It’s my freedom / Freedom to move on.” Later she sings, “I’m bruised not broken.” It’s a ballad about breaking up, but it could also be used as a female empowerment anthem because it’s about the woman exercising her independence and not staying in a relationship she’s realized is bad for her.
“Sometimes it hurts like hell,” Eemia sings over stuttering synth and tiny guitar notes at the beginning of “Need To Learn.” “Pain takes over / My heart grows cold,” begins the potent chorus, which concludes with, “I couldn’t let go / ‘Cause I need to learn.” Listening to the above-mentioned “Boxed,” it’s obvious that she has learned to break free of these sort of situations, but we can all recall being wrecked in love when we were younger and lacked the maturity to keep from having a nervous breakdown when a relationship wasn’t going our way. Clearly, Eemia is still very much in touch with those feelings of young heartbreak and she draws from them in a way that truly connects with listeners, making you feel something as you listen to “Need To Learn” and her other ballads.
“Please don’t go now / Please save me,” she sings during “Flame,” which seems to be the tale of a woman who’s made a big mistake in a relationship and is now begging her significant other to stay with her. “I’m not proud of what I’ve done / I look at you, you’re so much wiser,” she sings with a precious vulnerability in her voice. It’s obvious that she truly connects with each of her lyrics as she sings them, as opposed to so many singers who sound great but don’t really pour their hearts into it. This commitment to experiencing the emotions expressed in each of her songs as she sings them is one of the things that makes Shy such a must-have EP.
Closing track “Time Bomb” first sounds like a fabulous up-tempo and upbeat tune, but if you pay attention to the lyrics it’s not an uppity number at all. The jangly guitar and slamming beats might make you want to dance, but it’s certainly not about partying — it’s about realizing that you’ve been cheated on and feeling stupid for not figuring it out sooner. But she’s clearly displaying a tremendous amount of strength in this song and you have no doubt that she’s going to move on and be just fine after all of this.
Shy is something of an emotional rollercoaster, but I mean that in a good way. It’s rare that pop music can make you feel like your heart has been clawed out of your chest and is now lying on the floor, but many of the songs on Shy are emotive enough to do just that. These songs should especially resonate with people who’ve been unlucky in love, whether you’ve been dumped before, or you’ve had to break up with someone for whatever reason, or even if you’re currently trapped in a relationship that’s bad for you. And if you’re inexperienced in the romance department, these songs provide crucial lessons that you should learn before getting involved with someone.
Often, you’ll hear critics label debut releases as “a promising first work” or something to that effect. But it would be wrong to say that about Shy because Eemia is already delivering the goods, fully living up to whatever “promise” one could expect from her.