Words are in Emmeline Armitage’s veins. The 23-year-old is a national slam poetry champion who studied English at Oxford and is now working on a literary nonfiction postgraduate degree. One parent is the poet laureate, the other a radio producer. She has written and performed over homemade beats for years, but an opportunity to build something bigger materialised at a gig when she met super-producer Fraser T Smith – who has worked with Dave, Stormzy and Adele – and asked for advice about her demos. Impressed, he started sending her beats, and a promising collaboration was born.
It’s Emmeline’s melodic, rhythmic delivery that entices: sometimes cheeky, often intimate, always precise. It’s ideally suited to the quirky, imaginatively produced settings that Smith creates on songs such Frank and Girls Write Rhymes from Emmeline’s debut EP Satellite Navigation System. Excellent new single Sabrina takes its name from the 1954 Billy Wilder film starring Audrey Hepburn, as well as its theme of a woman in a transitional period between childhood and a completely different adulthood.
It’s a trailer for next year’s second EP, which will delve deeper into Emmeline’s feelings about her West Yorkshire upbringing from her London home. “You only really understand a place when you leave it,” she says, and, like her heroes FKA twigs, Loyle Carner and Frank Ocean, confessional immediacy is her songs’ strength: the sound of someone beautifully translating the world around them.
Satellite Navigation System is out now on 70Hz Recordings