Published Feb 21, 2019Freshly without moniker, Emilie Kahn — formerly known as Emilie & Ogden, Ogden being the name of her harp — is releasing her followup to 2015's 10 000, and there's still plenty of harp to be had. With Outro, Kahn continues her trend of fighting expectations held of a harpist, in favour of creating something glittering, sultry and mobile.
Kahn fights comfortable compartmentalization and destabilizes. Opening on a lush and tender note, "Swimmer" stirs with melancholy romance and high nostalgia — the song sets a tone and then, later, smashes it. "Three" bursts with sensuality and an electronic-pop flare. "There's nothing wrong with asking for what you want," Kahn declares, "There's nothing I can't take." The sour-sweet tune is as addictive as candy, but holds the bitter promise of a sugar crash.
"Horse" moves with resonant rhythm and a bubblegum vocal break among the twinkling harp and a smooth bass line: just as frustrated, just as danceable. On the penultimate track, "Never Good Enough," Kahn most cohesively blends the harp with the synths — a juxtaposed balance against the frustrated lyrics: "Leave your place crying, like I always do. I've got five years on you, I should have my shit together."
Synths and electronic beats paint a top coat of groove across the record. "Don't" has a serious late-night smoothness to it, while "Island" features a sound drop and summer-festival drift. The click-beat of "Three" revels in the movements of modern pop, but breaks into dreamy harp territory, as though Khan wants to prove the extent of her breathtaking range. If 10 000 didn't convince you, Outro showcases Kahn's fearlessness. (Secret City)