by the New York Post as One of Ten
Artists to Know (NYP
Am A F*%king Unicorn (from Broken Romantics: A
Vicious Song Cycle EP)
18 February 2019
"...Emma Dean is not your ordinary pop singer-songwriter..."
Coming from Brisbane, Australia, with a style
that could easily be transposed on stage off Broadway and
that she pens herself as “Pop Cabaret” (from
a previous album), Emma Dean is not your ordinary pop singer-songwriter,
and a simple listen to this new EP and that song in particular
will make it obvious to everyone.
Starting with a great piano driven groove which is as infectious
as it is original, Emma goes all the way with a display
of female empowerment that could well be the next feminist
anthem, while her humorous delivery shows vocal chops definitely
out of the ordinary. Where on the rest of the EP, which
is a bit more restraint, you could hear shades of Tori Amos,
with a knack for improbably catchy melodies coming from
outer space, romantic lyrics (the broken kind), and piano
driven tunes, the songstress is out for a kill with this
song, and if you cannot really see the “glitter and
sparkles coming out of her bum”, without a doubt you
can hear them coming out of her voice.
What’s not to like on that tune that grooves with
wah guitar, rhythmic piano, heavy bass, hypnotic percussion
and a dancing flute? Hard to resist Emma Dean flamboyant
style and vocals in any case, and you will tend to agree
that she is indeed a “F*%king Unicorn”!
Verdict: 5/5 beards
to review site (accessible as at 21Feb19)
Get the song and digital EP from Emma's Shop
EP - Emma & The Hungry Truth
Gold Coast's Cultural Street Press, 29 January 2015
is a sublime mix of body moving pop and rock; there is
no need for any indie, alt or folk hyphens here."
When a band has been recruited by Brian Ritchie to play
at the festival of Music and Art (MOFO) at MONA in Hobart
you lean into your screen a little more. Emma & the
Hungry Truth is led by Emma Dean on vocals and violin,
who stamps ‘cutting edge’ like a red haired
version of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream,
channeling the woodland nymph look. The band looking like
they have similarly stepped out from Sydney Long’s
art-nouveau pagan paintings.
The first song – Always The Last To Know
on their debut EP Feast, has sucked me in right at the
piano plinkin’ intro. We can hear depth of sound
with weaving string arrangements and a tinkling glockenspiel.
The chorus, “My heart… I am always the
last to know,” is pure pop.
Bark Like An Animal begins with the chords of
a melancholic organ and ramps up with Emma Dean’s
high vocal register. She is often likened to the legendary
Kate Bush and equally so Kate Miller-Hiedke, but less
operatic. This is a sermonic song, but definitely not
Bite of My Broken Heart lures you with Emma’s
deep alto tones and the band’s vocal harmonies.
Time changes and key changes abound – Broken Heart
is the token ‘Queenesque’ anthem song hidden
in the middle of the EP that really explodes. Written
by Emma Dean like all the songs on the EP, the instruments
are being manipulated to their creative potential, forming
a tight arrangement.
Piano anthems aside, I am Fire contrasts this
time solely with Emma’s vocals and the driven repetitiveness
of the tribal drums accompanying the lyrics, “I’ll
pick you an apple, I’ll pick you some fruit, open
up I’ll feed you the Hungry Truth.” The
latter lyrics being the name of the next title —
The Hungry Truth. A song bursting with rock sound
reminiscent of Chrissie Amphlett – added with the
rawness of the thumping high hat, drums and rhythm guitar.
Let Us dance With Our Fear ends with a pop/musical
styled number that bops along then cleverly contrasts
to a floaty Bowie-inspired ‘Starman’ intermission,
then back for another pop flourish to finish. Feast is
a sublime mix of body moving pop and rock; there is no
need for any indie, alt or folk hyphens here.
to review site (accessible as at 11Feb15)
Buy EP here
Go to Top
Courier Mail, Brisbane Australia, 17 January 2015
the seat belts, when Ms Dean is driving she loves to
take the corners at speed."
Go to Top
29 November 2014
Reviewer: Rachel Maria Cox
Review of single
Bark Like An Animal
"... Emma Dean’s voice is show-stopping....There
is real talent in this band. And I for one welcome my
new theatrical pop overlords."
This is is the second song by Emma & The Hungry
Truth that’s been my number one for the week
and the 6 piece are well on the way to being my favourite
Aussie band. Kate Bush-esque vocals, epic arrangements
and catchy, catchy hooks are what they’re good at,
and that’s exactly what Bark Like An Animal
showcases. I played it last week and couldn’t get
it out of my head, and the band’s latest EP Feast
is full of songs like that. The instrumental parts are
unique and work together rather than clamouring for attention
which is fortunate, because Emma Dean’s voice is
show-stopping and not a lot could take the attention away
from this front woman. There is real talent in this band.
And I for one welcome my new theatrical pop overlords.
Hail. Emma & The Hungry Truth.
(Rachel chose Bark Like An Animal her number
#1 pick of the week again on her Bondi Radio show.)
to review site (accessible as at 5Dec14)
Go to Top
28 October 2014
Rachel Maria Cox
of single Always
The Last To Know
"....One of the best things I’ve heard all
year. Amazing, magnificent, other synonyms for good."
The second I heard the opening of this song, I knew I
would be hooked. A+ prediction on my part because I haven’t
stopped listening to it all week. The six piece, led by
singer and violinist Emma Dean, balance Celtic Folk, indie
pop, and stadium pop/rock, evoking reminders of the Corrs,
Coldplay and Of Monsters and Men, to name a few, and creating
a sound all their own. There are so many things I love
about this song. The vocal harmonies just soar so effortlessly.
The repeating note on the piano is apparently a theme
for me this week. The strings are interwoven perfectly,
they’re not overdone, nor do they just follow the
guitar or piano chords (probably because the band contains
a violinist and a cellist, not just a keys player with
a synth string sound). The tiny little glockenspiel tinklings
here and there add some lightness to the arrangement without
being trite or overly cutesy, a trap a lot of folk pop
bands fall into. I get shivers in the bridge as it builds
up to an exquisite A Capella moment. But my favourite
thing about it is the change of time signature. The way
it’s used to mirror the lyrics, “beat the
same old time so I can count to four, and catch my breath
before I hit the floor” is such a eureka moment.
One of the best things I’ve heard all year. Amazing,
magnificent, other synonyms for good.
(Rachel chose Always The Last To Know her number
#1 pick of the week on her Bondi Radio show.)
to review site (accessible as at 31Oct14)
Always The Last To Know official video clip.
(Pt 2 of White, Red and Black EP Trilogy)
MyFizzyPop (myfizzypop.blogspot.co.uk), posted 28 July 2013
It's essential listening.....Mellifluous, delicious, evocative....Quite
literally breathtaking....Weird, wondrous....A genuinely
immense piece of work..."
I first fell for Emma Dean when her amazing album Dr
Dream and the Imaginary Pop Cabaret was released. Led
by the unforgettable single, Sincerely Fearful,
it was a giddy journey through theatrical enchantment that
still resonates over 3 years later.
Emma is still providing the world with thought provoking
& mesmerising music - most recently through a series
of EPs entitled White, Red and (the upcoming)
Black. I caught up with Red thanks to her
opening for the wonderful Jinkx Monsoon show The Vaudevillians
- and soon became enraptured by the piano driven, passionate
pop that was contained within.
If White was about new beginnings, Red
embraces the crazy world of love - and often reminds me
of the classic Spike line from Buffy The Vampire Slayer:
"You'll be in love till it kills you both. You'll fight,
and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other till it makes
you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Love isn't brains,
children, it's blood...blood screaming inside you to work
its will." Emma takes that world of love and passion
and heartbreak and surrounds it with sumptuous, elegant
piano, lush soaring strings and her unique dramatic vocals.
It's essential listening and here is my track by track review...
My Blood My Heart ~ I love a song where
the music is as much as part of the narrative as the all
important lyrics. Built around tinkling piano melodies,
the music builds into swooping, emphatic chords and crescendos
into a soaring anthem complete with hand-clap percussion
that mirrors the growing nature of passion; that often it
can start all gentle and tentative before erupting in a
fiery explosion of intensity & power. All the while,
Emma's flawless vocal gives nuance to the emotions in the
lyrics, pouring a all encompassing yearning & longing
into this gorgeous tune. Mellifluous, delicious, evocative.
Venus De Milo ~ When Emma taps into the
lower part of her vocal register with such tentative, whispering
sensuality as she does at the beginning of this song, you
absolutely get the impression that something quite special
is about to happen. You wouldn't be wrong. It's like some
sort of mystical musical alchemy being conjured into being.
A song about needing to feel, wanting that aching drive
inside that love can give you, it leaves you with a sad,
wistful energy as you can't help but visually recreate the
titular statue in as part of a fiery relationship. The strings
in this song are so exquisitely performed, so beautifully
placed that it keeps the song moving forward with an innate
grandiose rhythm that stirs your emotions and swells to
it's pleading finale. Quite literally breathtaking.
All The King's Horses ~ A vibrant, erudite
piano riff powers this swirling tune into existence and
it's almost 3 different songs in one, expertly blended so
that you feel like you are accompanying Emma on a musical
journey to exotic new destinations. Fasten your seatbelts
because it's quite the ride. At time it's evocative of Eurythmics,
others it is reminiscent of Alanis yet it remains distinctly
Emma (most notably around the glorious "teach your
children how to love" refrain). It utterly belongs
as the electrifying end of Act One number to some fantastical
musical that exists slightly outside the realm of our reality.
Weird, wondrous and has you hitting repeat instantly to
experience again and again.
Tinkerbell (Down) ~ the tale of one of
Disney's most well known fairies has never sounded so wicked.
All those years yearning for Peter Pan yet he only has eyes
for the far less magical Wendy? El Scandalo! Ominous piano
in the verses soon builds to a rising intricate scale, giving
way to the best piano work of the EP as Emma reveals that
actually it's all a front to cover that she is on actually
down. Devilishly clever lyrics given Emma free reign to
do her thang as the most creative, imaginative, stimulating
purveyor of words this side of Book of Mormon Broadway.
She's never less than 100% committed to the music and the
fact that each song has a distinctive character (yet retains
an effortless flow throughout all 5 songs) is one of the
many joys of this EP...
Head In The Clouds ~ A dazzlingly effulgent
and off kilter way to close this chapter of the EP trilogy.
Almost nursery rhyme like in it's execution, Emma sings
to nothing more than spellbinding chimes that allow her
voice to be the anchor to this floating incantation. As
textured, harmonised backing vocals give the song additional
layers, you feel at one with the alluring conjuration that
the music holds over you. A genuinely immense piece of work...
So all in all, very good then eh?
to review site (accessible as at 30Jul13)
Go to Top
the the Woods EP (2012)
of Oz (http://www.soundsofoz.com), posted 12 October 2012
the Woods is beautiful, brave, and special, and hopefully
just the entrée. Bring on the main course Geppetto;
I’m still hungry."
When I heard Jake Diefenbach and Emma Dean had teamed up
for a new act called Geppetto, I was thrilled. These musicians
were behind two of the most creative and exciting releases
I’d heard in recent years, and I was excited by the
marriage of their creative talents.
Into the Woods delivers everything that I hoped it would.
Emma and Jake are the perfect pair, with vocals that blend
beautifully, and a shared sense of theatricality that’s
only heightened in their collaborative work. It feels like
the score for some modern, off-Broadway show. To suggest
these songs wouldn’t find themselves in the mainstream
theatres of New York is no criticism. There are classical
elements there, but the electro beats and other contemporary
influences would probably turn off the Big Apple’s
more conservative theatre goers. Instead I imagine this
music gaining a cult following amongst hip young things.
Into the Woods bolts out of the gate with two big showstoppers:
the title track and “This is Where the Trouble Starts.”
The poignant and tender “Forged in Flames” which
follows allows us to catch our breath. It marks a turning
point in the EP, as the remaining songs are also in a gentler
vein. These delicate numbers are exquisite, and show yet
another side of this dynamic duo.
The only problem with Into the Woods is that it seems too
big for an EP. I’m left wanting so much more than
this short form can possibly provide. I like to think of
it as a teaser for a full-length work, rather than a completed
project. Into the Woods is beautiful, brave, and special,
and hopefully just the entrée. Bring on the main
course Geppetto; I’m still hungry.
to online review (accessible as at 31Oct12)
Go to Top
News, Issue 309, 5 October 2012
Reviewer: Tim Spencer
very fresh, educating, talented album that I encourage all
to discover and judge.
Go to Top
tsunami mag (http://www.tsunamimag.com), 16 September 2012
Reviewer: Daniel Meagher
an electronic fairytale with Diefenbach’s piano solos
and Dean’s immaculate vibrato the driving forces of
Into the Woods...."
Following playing six dates at the New York Fringe Festival,
a spate of Australian shows and the EP’s release in
early October, the duo consisting of Emma Dean and Jake
Diefenbach are making the most of the six months they’ve
been together. Launching into the EP with the title track,
Dean immediately showcases her vocal range in an a Capella
intro, followed by a musical styling typical of Digital
Daggers. An almost sinister theme comes from a borderline
electronic feel evoked through moog synthesisers.
The second track, ‘This is Where the Trouble Starts’,
was the duo’s first official single in July. It sounds
like the soundtrack for a twisted fairytale. Diefenbach
steps out from behind the piano and, though vocally weaker
than Dean, the song and Diefenbach are kind to each other,
resulting in perfect complementation. With a fast and almost
choppy structure, the song is incredibly playful and sees
the audience feel like they could be running from the big
bad wolf before a captivating piano solo takes control before
‘Forged in Flames’ follows with Dean’s
vocals sounding somewhat like Missy Higgins. The music could
easily be coming from a little girl’s jewellery box.
The piece as an entirety feels rather under-produced compared
to its sister tracks. However, the vocal duets between the
pair are lovely, it just lacks the pizzazz the rest of the
‘Is Anybody Out There?’ sounds like a ballet
recital. Piano heavy, the vocals are simple and enjoyable.
Dean sounds like an amateur version of Sarah Brightman;
which, considering Brightman’s incredible range, style
and resulting success, is a compliment.
‘Won this Game Before’ is by far the most
lyrically flawless and possesses an incredible elegance.
Dean’s vocals, which varies throughout the EP, sound
more like Mel C mixed with KT Tunstall. It’s an electronic
fairytale with Diefenbach’s piano solos and Dean’s
immaculate vibrato the driving forces of Into the Woods.
to review site (accessible as at 3Oct12)
Go to Top
Drum Magazine Sydney, 1 September 2012
Dolls-style devotion seems on the cards...."
Geppetto was the man who breathed magic and life into
Pinocchio, for those of you who've never seen a Disney
movie. The Brisbane band of the name inhabit a theatrical
cabaret area which almost screams "international
cult following". Perhaps oddly for such music, their
choice of puppetmaster for their Into The Woods
EP (MGM) is Powderfinger's Darren Middleton, who keeps
some of the excesses in check, but let's them have some
melodrama when called for. Touring overseas as we speak,
Dresden Dolls-style devotion seems on the cards....
Go to Top
Dream and the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret
The Courier Mail, Brisbane Australia, 22 January 2011
Reviewer: Noel Mengel
just right. Move over Rufus and Tori. You have company."
Art of the Torch Singer, 26 December 2010
Reviewer: Piers Ford
get her out of my head? Well Dean is certainly a bold and
refreshing new voice.... (She) has combined idiosyncrasy
and a strong, fetishistic visual impact with a promisingly
commercial sound... hopefully, she’ll soon be following
that well-trodden path to London and we'll get a chance
to see and hear the complete picture...."
I know it makes me a failure on so many levels as a gay
man but I’ve never really understood the Kylie phenomenon.
Those Stock, Aitken and Waterman years were anathema to
me. And give or take a couple of genuinely interesting floor
fillers since then – and the lady’s occasional
flirtations with jazz and Nick Cave – I’ve always
found that tiny sliver of a voice totally at odds with her
diva status and the outrageous production values of her
arena tours. For such a small talent, she’s had a
spectacular career. But now that she’s post-40 and
has successfully battled breast cancer, she has also earned
her ‘show-business survivor’ stripes. So good
luck to her, I guess.
Emma Dean is something altogether different: bold, edgy,
clearly determined to plough her own creative furrow and
to hell with the consequences, and possessed of a raw, outsize
talent that will take some steering. And with a new album
– Dr Dream and the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret – just
out, she is in pole position to be Australia’s next
big cultural export.
This is a record with huge ambitions – epic arrangements
(catch those strings on “Sharks”), swooping
vocals (that have had some critics reaching yet again for
Kate Bush comparisons), lyrics that plunge with vertigo-inducing
speed from existential streams of consciousness to the gut
punch of rock balladry and the occasional crude verbal laceration.
Dean herself says, “It’s [the album] about letting
go of all the things I’m normally too afraid and ashamed
to speak of and unashamedly airing them in song.”
If you have sensitive pretentiousness antennae, they’re
probably twitching already. And the album’s concept
– Dean spilling the contents of her sub-conscious
to the eponymous Dr Dream – is no small hurdle, for
a start. But once you get beyond that and start listening
to the words, the cascade of characters, dark tales, threats,
dangers and sensual motifs, is innovative and promising.
It’s a long while since I heard a lyric as challenging
as: “Once a thieving scoundrel dared me to steal your
underwear. The silk did trickle down your legs to your ankles
pink as pigs,” the opening lines to the hymn-like
Can’t get her out of my head? Well Dean is certainly
a bold and refreshing new voice, and there are several tracks
I’ll happily have on my iPod. To be honest, I don’t
get Kate Bush so much as Sparks (“Sincerely Fearful”)
with a dash of Tori Amos and Berlin cabaret. Dean’s
fascinating vocal texture also reminds me very much of Melinda
Miel, a performer of dark, bloodstained cabaret material,
who captured the imagination of London’s club scene
all too briefly in the early 1990s.
Dean has combined idiosyncrasy and a strong, fetishistic
visual impact with a promisingly commercial sound, epitomised
by one of the best tracks, the anthemic “Thunder”.
At the same time, this points to another hurdle: Dr Dream
is a character from her alternative cabaret show, and there
is sometimes a sense with the album that the listening experience
is only giving you half the story. Not all the songs are
wholly effective in a pure audio format. So hopefully, she’ll
soon be following that well-trodden path to London and we’ll
get the chance to see and hear the complete picture.
Meanwhile, if you’re going to be in Australia this
summer, you can catch her as Sally Bowles in Zen Zen Xo
Physical Theatre’s production of Cabaret in Brisbane.
to review site (accessible as at 7Jan11)
pop sucker, 22 December 2010
Reviewer: the pop sucker
Review of single Sincerely Fearful:
a word: timeless...."
if ever there is a stage musical version of valley of the
dolls, emma dean's "sincerely fearful" would be
the perfect act one closer. it's six shades of crazy, and
as addictive as a pocketful of benzedrine. the multi-instrumentalist
and singer/songwriter has the pipes and personality to win
you over with her brand of big, theatrical cabaret pop.
"sincerely fearful" has the kind of quality that
suits it to modern-day theater, old-time piano bars, top
40 radio, and saloons along the barbary coast during the
gold rush days. in a word: timeless. also she was just tapped
by the ny post as one of the top 10 acts to watch in 2011
(along with another Pop Sucker fave, graffiti6).
to review site (accessible as at 7Jan11)
soundsofoz.com, 21 December 2010
Reviewer: Lauren Katulka
wasn’t prepared for exactly what a magical album it
is. ...Dr Dream and the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret is a very
special CD that won’t be leaving my stereo any time
After hearing the New York Post rave about our own Emma
Dean, I knew her sophomore album Dr Dream and the Imaginary
Pop-Cabaret must be something special. But I wasn’t
prepared for exactly what a magical album it is.
Emma Dean pushes the envelope to create a record that lies
somewhere between old school Tori Amos and the Wicked soundtrack.
That sounds like a bizarre combination, and I suppose it
is, but on listening to the record it all makes perfect
Just like those early Tori Amos recordings, Emma keeps
proceedings moving along with her driving piano notes and
an innate theatricality. On the surface there doesn’t
seem to be the angst of a Little Earthquakes, but don’t
dismiss it as frothy stuff. The lyrics plumb some really
dark themes, but they’re presented with such color
and flamboyance that the casual listener might miss them.
Of course, that only makes this complex recording richer
on each listen.
Tunes like “Stuck in the Mud” and the single
“Sincerely Fearful” seem like they’re
made for a modern Broadway musical. Again there’s
that great sense of theatre that seems bigger than an album,
but it’s not as affected as an old-fashioned show
tune might be.
“Something They Can Hold” is another tune worthy
of note, a track with such emotional intensity and visceral
lyrics that it left me floored.
With Tori Amos mellowing in her middle age, I’m thrilled
to see an artist of Emma Dean’s talent picking up
the baton. We needed a strong, independent, and individual
female voice on the musical landscape, and knowing she’s
Australian makes it all the better. Dr Dream and the Imaginary
Pop-Cabaret is a very special CD that won’t be leaving
my stereo any time soon.
to review site (accessible as at 23DEc10)
Crikey.com.au - Daily Proposition, 15 December 2010
Reviewer: Jim Forbes
a satisfying serve of warmth, humour and melancholy splashed
over a little rock, served up oddball, and well worth a
taste....Make the investment and spend the evening acquainting
yourself with a talent whose stock is on the rise."
If there was a futures market in musicians, Emma Dean’s
a commodity you’d want to buy long. A Queensland Conservatorium
alumnus (the institution that brought you Kate Miler-Heidke,
Megan Washington and Katie Noonan, proof you can’t
have too much HECS in pop) now resident in Sydney, Dean
has recently released her second album, Dr Dream And The
It’s a satisfying serve of warmth, humour and melancholy
splashed over a little rock, served up oddball, and well
worth a taste. And it’s not just your unknown occasional
Crikey correspondent saying so — Dean’s recently
been named in the New York Post’s annual list of next
big things, as one of 10 Artists to Know in 2011.
A singer-songwriter out of the Tori Amos/Alanis Morisette/Kate
Bush corner of existence, Dean’s lyrical skills and
knack for melody are backed up by muscular-yet-nimble pipes
and gloriously percussive piano riffing. The highlights
on the album are many, from the angsty romp of Sincerely
Fearful to the sombre Something They Can Hold, which now
holds down third place in my cheery list of Best Songs About
Suicide’ (shaded only by Crowded House’s Hole
in the River and Blink 182’s Adam’s Song, if
Other notable tracks include Thunder, and the infectious-as-ebola
Sharks (In My Pool), a dangerously enjoyable rockalong —
dangerous, in that it frequently finds me air drumming,
often when I should be concentrating on other things, such
as negotiating a right-hand turn across double lanes in
blinding rain. On a bicycle. (You’d think I’d
know better, having written off my mother’s 1991 Nissan
Pintarra while holding down the backbeat to Soundgarden’s
Rusty Cage, instead of holding on to the steering wheel.)
The live show that goes along with this album is also something
to behold, with Dean and band joined on stage by three costumed
performers who clown around bringing comical life to the
artist’s lyrical imagery. It’s a bold experiment
with that perilous stuff, interpretive dance, that all involved
pull off — definitely something to laugh with, not
Make the investment and spend the evening acquainting yourself
with a talent whose stock is on the rise.
The details: The Pop-Cabaret tour’s currently wending
its away around the country, and the album’s available
or through the artist’s
to review site (accessible as at 19Dec10)
New York Post, 3 December 2010 - 10
Artists to Know in 2011
sample her monster Broadway single “Sincerely Fearful,”
which is 50% “Wicked” and 50% Tori Amos and
100% addictive, and you will find an unavoidable sound worthy
of the repeat button."
Singer, songwriter and self proclaimed ringmaster Emma Dean
is a hobobag full of crazy pills. Like the really awesome
hallucinogenic kind. Driven by her child-like imagination
and bouncy exuberance, her new album “Dr Dream and
the Imaginary Pop Cabaret” has a title that describes
it’s sound with sheer perfection.
It’s a sideshow behind a piano; it’s a carnival
of kook; it’s a sing-along striptease; and Emma Dean
is the neurotic cabaret songstress to lead the chorus of
freaks. Just sample her monster Broadway single “Sincerely
Fearful,” which is 50% “Wicked” and 50%
Tori Amos and 100% addictive, and you will find an unavoidable
sound worthy of the repeat button.
to review site (accessible as at 8Feb11)
Rave Magazine - Brisbane Street Press, 23 November 2010
Reviewer: Denis Semchenko
songstress Emma Dean is a talent to be reckoned with....the
flame-haired soprano hits full blossom on her second LP..."
Brisbane chanteuse puts “quality” in “quirky”
on sophomore album
Let me start with an upfront declaration: I’ve never
been a cabaret-pop fan. Acts like Dresden Dolls and Amanda
Palmer don’t do anything for me and neither do pancake,
trilby hats and other genre cliches. That being said, I
won’t be the first to openly acknowledge that for
all her flamboyance, local songstress Emma Dean is a talent
to be reckoned with.
Having established herself as a formidable creative force
with 2008’s Real Life Computer Game, the flame-haired
soprano hits full blossom on her second LP Dr Dream And
The Imaginary Pop-Cabaret. As ever in charge of the piano
and violin, Dean is backed by bassist John Turnbull and
her drummer brother Tony, with fellow theatrical-leaning
muso Ben Stewart helping out on the acoustic guitar, drum
programming and backing vocals.
A gifted singer to begin with, she is in superb lyrical
form here. “Dr Dream has a way of twisting the truth
dear... he says ‘there’s nothing wrong with
dialogue between yourself and an imaginary friend or three’,
the siren confides on the opening Emma Dean Meets Dr Dream.
Sincerely Fearful is an open admission of inner dread set
to racing music-hall piano, Stuck In The Mud transpires
to be a widescreen pop number and Something They Can Hold
– led by a delicate “heartbeat” pulse
– gradually unfolds into a song of pure grace and
power. If anything, Emma Dean’s art offers a much
more intriguing and beguiling proposition than her previous
employer – the crossover success Kate Miller-Heidke.
Rating 4/5 stars
to online version of review (accessible as at 23Nov10)
Go to Top
16 November 2010
Reviewer: Jason Strange
end result is that this album is a true artistic piece...."
Emma Dean opens her world and her imagination to the world
via cleverly crafted piano based pop songs delivered with
all the theatrics of a cabaret performance. in fact the
term “Pop Cabaret” is her way term to describe
her music. Essentially think Amanda Palmer mixed with Regina
Spektor’s childlike qualities and Katie Noonan’s
amazing vocal to get a picture of what you will hear on
this, Emma’s second album.
Carrying on from her successful tour last year in which
featured her Imaginary friends, psychotic psychiatrist Dr
Dream who she states in the opening track “Emma Dean
Meets Dr. Dream” “he’s not making me better/i
should ask for my money back”. Henry, her darker personality
and GG her sensual side (featured in the track “Stuck
In The Mud”). These characters are designed to open
up Emma Dean and expose parts of her mind held suppressed.
Behind the theatrics and poppy piano, there is a vulnerability,
“tell me whats wrong with the way i am/don’t
fit in your boxes you don’t understand?” and
a need to be loved in tracks such as ‘Thieving Hearts’
While there is a serious undertone, don’t let that
persuade you from what is a light and pop driven album.
Her childlike qualities shine through and you can’t
help but get whisked into this world that Emma has exposed
to us all to share in. The end result is that this album
is a true artistic piece. The music, the theatrics, the
stage shows that accompany the album all bring together
Emma Dean’s ultimate vision- catchy, entertaining,
thought provoking and superbly played out to the final curtain.
to review site (accessible as at 23Nov10)
The Insomnia Radio Network, 8 November 2010
you have not heard Emma Dean’s type of music before,
prepare to be dazzled...."
The music of Australian performer Emma Dean has been stuck
in my head for days. After playing her song Sincerely Fearful
on Insomnia Radio: Australia episode 8 and more recently
my other music podcast Erk FM, the song (and therefore by
extension, Emma) has been a constant co-pilot for the last
few days. It is a very catchy song which for me at least
is an earworm (one of those songs that you can not get out
of your head no matter what you do). The song certainly
makes a nice change from the harder rock and metal that
I exposed myself to during the month of October 2010. This
is a key selling point in my opinion.
November 2010 sees the launch of Emma’s second album,
Dr Dream & the Imaginary Pop Cabaret. The music is a
lot different to what I am used to. If you listen at one
level, you could be excused for thinking that the music
is merely up-vibe and interesting, almost as if you are
at a circus or a cabaret show. In my case, it sounds like
what I imagine a cabaret show to be like through watching
TV. It could be argued that you only get half the effect
by only listening to the music. To get the full effect,
take a close listen to the music. If you are not fortunate
enough to be in Emma Dean’s audience, sit back and
imagine what it would be like. When you do listen very closely
to the words, you may be surprised at what you are actually
listening to. If you do want some idea what it is like to
be sitting in the audience at one of her shows, there are
various performance videos and a lot more available for
you to enjoy.
In her own words:
“Essentially, I think of my original music as
being piano- based cabaret-tinged pop which is presented
with a theatrical flair. In short, I call it pop-cabaret.
This particular body of work explores themes such as imagination,
insanity, fear, obsession and dreams. Dr Dream is one of
the characters from my Imaginary Friends tour and this album
is all about me sitting in his office, on his big black
chair and rambling on about the inner-most workings of my
mind. It’s about letting go of all the things I’m
normally too afraid and ashamed to speak of and unashamedly
airing them in song. It’s been scary but therapeutic.”
History has shown that some of the best music artists in
the world are those that have inner demons, the sort of
people who always seems to be having an internal monologue
with their inner child. Sometimes the inner child wins.
Listening closely to the music, you could be forgiven for
thinking that the inner child knows how to win and does
so on a regular basis on this album. Unlike so many albums
out there, each song sounds different and takes you on a
journey of discovery. Just when you think that you have
worked out the direction that the album is going, it takes
you somewhere else. It does not matter if you like that
direction, you are going there anyway!
If you have not heard Emma Dean’s type of music before,
prepare to be dazzled. She has a massive vocal range. If
you did not know any better, you might think that there
are several different people singing as the album progresses.
I am looking forward to see one of her upcoming shows as
she launches Dr Dream & the Imaginary Pop Cabaret on
the east coast of Australia during November 2010. I am keen
to see the live performance aspect, especially because I
have not been to a professional cabaret show before. I think
only then will I get the full effect of her music. It will
be interesting to compare the two experiences.
As a sneak preview into the internal monologue that is
contained within the album, have a look at the video for
Sincerely Fearful. It is well put together, it is funny
and quirky. There are also some nods to the comic book genre
as well as Ninjas. So who will win in the battle between
Dr Dream & Emma Dean? I’ll leave the diagnostics
of the mental anguish to someone more qualified. To me,
the true winner is the audience. How can the listener or
the audience member lose? If you are prepared to listen
to something out of your comfort zone, you will enjoy the
experience even if you think of it as a audio trip down
Thank you to SGC Media for allowing me to feature Emma
Dean’s music and for providing a review copy of the
album, available on November 12, 2010. For more information
about the album, upcoming performances & how to socially
network with Emma, visit the official Emma Dean website.
to review site (accessible as at 9Nov10)
Fizzypop, 5 November 2010
Review of Sincerely Fearful from Dr Dream and the
puts together this insanely off kilter, quirky cabaret pop
that is sort of Kate Bush mixed with Alanis Morrisette singing
over the Wicked soundtrack - it's entirely undescribable..."
I have Mike at PopTrash Addicts to thank for introducing
me to the wonderful Emma Dean. She puts together this insanely
off kilter, quirky cabaret pop that is sort of Kate Bush
mixed with Alanis Morrisette singing over the Wicked soundtrack
- it's entirely undescribable, shouldn't work but oh my
god is such a joy to listen to. Her first single off her
incredible second album Dr Dream & The Imaginary Pop
Cabaret is a whirling dervish of a piano driven track with
theatrical, dramatic beats, crashing cymbal and a vocal
that seduces the tunes as much as it attacks it. You get
the impression Emma completely throws herself into the tune,
living and breathing each word, note and beat. And the result
is a vivid tune that comes to life each time you listen.
More about Emma soon. IMMENSICLES!
to review site (accessible
as at 9Nov10)
1st July, 2010
Reviewer: Martyn Badoui
Includes review of Thieving Hearts from Dr Dream
and the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret
If you have not heard Dean, then you surely will at some
She[Emma] is a girl who can perfectly craft a song into
that important mix of musical sophistication and substance....."
I first saw Singer Songwriter Emma Dean perform at The
Raval Room in Surry Hills. She sat erect at the piano, statuesque
and with her body bound by a white corset. It grabbed around
her tiny waist, and made her appear vulnerable though her
performance prowess was strong. Red wine coloured hair spilled
down and outwards. Twisting around her body wildly.
Emma’s voice is like her hair – It twists wildly
– but only when she wants it too. It is at her disposal.
When singing, the control, ease and grace of her voice means
that she goes deepy INSIDE her melodies and is escorted
to an emotional place of sincerity by her exceptional use
of melismas and turns, which can be primal and arabesque.
After the concert, I was mesmerised, but was in a terrible
hurry to get home to my Chihuahua, whom I had accidently
left out in the garden. It wasn’t untill the following
week that I was able to catch up with Dean and learn more
about her work.
Emma’s latest Single ‘Thieving Hearts’,
(composed by Dean, and with lyrics co-written by Ben Stewart)
is a poetic, dark song, which reminds me of the NY artist
‘Our Lady J’s’ song ‘Africa’
because of it’s catchy choral like chorus’.
The lyrics oscillate between very gently teasing sexual
imagery, and more descriptive passages. It has a very haunting
Her previous album ‘Real Life Computer Game’
features a song entitled ‘End Of the Table’
which was written solely by Dean and about feeling left
out at a dinner party. The music is far more serious and
dramatic than the situation, which leads me to believe that
she is a girl who feels things very deeply. It captures
the essence of a certain human sadness and the desperate
disconnect that one feels when one does not fit in. It is
easy to fall desperately in love with this song.
If you have not heard Dean, then you surely will at some
stage. Her Hit ‘Thunder’ was Number #1 on Triple
J, and with thieving hearts debuting at No #11 it is fast
tracking itself to No #1.
Emma croons in her song ‘End of the Table’
“I’m just a girl who like’s to write songs”.
But she isn’t JUST a girl who likes to write songs.
She is too modest. She is a girl who can perfectly craft
a song into that important mix of musical sophistication
Life Computer Game (2008)
United Kingdom, 12 September 2009
Reviewer: Patrick McKiernan
it is certainly an attention grabbing album. Curious, funny,
astute and above all, weird. She could well stake a good
claim to be the new Millennium's Kate Bush with her theatrical
approach to music...."
Emma Dean is a Brisbane based multi instrumentalist that
has followed up the quick release of two very promising
E.P's with her debut long player and it is certainly an
attention grabbing album. Curious, funny, astute and above
all, weird. She could well stake a good claim to be the
new Millennium's Kate Bush with her theatrical approach
Opening track 'Waiting Room' is all performance theatre
with her emphatic vocals on display and intricate piano
and guitar licks. It's a very fun song to lead into the
title track, which is a perfectly constructed pop song that
would make a fantastic single. Her voice is enough on it's
own, her yips and yelps adding great dimensions to the sound.
'Most Of The Time' is a good piano led ballad with great
string arrangements and 'Sorry' is a song that builds in
intensity with every passing sentence and grows to a great
finale. 'Get What You Paid For' is a fantastic track pulsating
with wicked energy and then 'Orange Red' is again a great
string soaked song with a beautiful vocal. Short track 'Addicted
To' uneasily leads into 'Cocaine' is pure energy and theatrics
as she kicks through a fantastic response to false rumours
she was on the white powder. 'Henry' starts with a wonderfully
dark cello and violin, which sets the tone for a very sombre
piece of music. 'End Of The Table' is slightly stuttering
in its approach but nothing cannot be taken from the vocals,
yet again pristine. 'Dry Land' is again a rather stretched
song, which is a shame. The final track (you can read the
title in the listing) picks the album up from what could
have been a disappointing finale. It is the embodiment of
the attitude with which this album was produced, sounding
almost like a song from a Musical. The vocal is the best
from a great choice of strong performances.
Emma Dean is deserving of greatness with her dedication
to making music as wide screen as possible and this album
continues her standard of high quality releases. A minor
lull towards the end does not overshadow the fantastic show
put on throughout.
Magazine, Brisbane, Australia, 22 June 2009
Reviewer: Bill Holdsworth
exceptional effort from this rising local performer... It’s
an undeniably accomplished, imaginative effort with plenty
of colour and movement but, more importantly, with lots
of heart and soul."
Emma Dean has been around the Brisbane scene now for a few
years in various guises, including the trio Bittersuite,
the theatre troupe Zen Zen Zo and as part of Kate Miller-Heidke’s
band. But it’s as a solo performer that’s she’s
really begun to shine.
After 2007’s impressive EP Face Painter, this first
longplayer, co-produced with Ben Stewart and featuring a
number of up-and-coming locals, arrives as a fully-fledged
showcase of this singer-songwriter’s talents.
You can see how comparisons to everybody from Regina Spektor
and Fiona Apple to Clare Bowditch and Kate Miller-Heidke
have some sort of currency but Dean doesn’t really
stand in their shadow at all.
Drawing on her extensive training and background,
particularly with piano and violin, she melds elements of
classical and cabaret for a style that sounds both theatrical
and thoughtful. And just when you think it’s heading
into prog-rock territory, as in Cocaine’s chop-and-change
mood or, as in Henry’s swooping strings, maybe getting
too orchestral, it’s all focussed by a rock attitude
nailing the melodies and by Dean’s own vivid voice.
It’s an undeniably accomplished, imaginative effort
with plenty of colour and movement but, more importantly,
with lots of heart and soul.
Go to Top
Reviewer: Michael Ajayi
Life Computer is an awesome debut from an awesome artist."
and super talented; Emma Dean wows us with her amazing blend
of elastic pop theatre.
Off the back of her debut EP 'Face Painter', the sensual
and sultry Emma Dean returns with band of Dane Pollock (guitar),
John Turnbull (bass), Rachel Meredith (cello) and Anthony
Dean (drums) in toe to release her first full length album.
Produced by Ben Stewart (Hot Sex Liquid, The Boat People);
'Real Life Computer Game' draws on her extensive training
and background, as a theatre performer, music teacher, songwriter,
and multi-instrumentalist to create a dangerously catchy
and dramatic piece of work; that many will agree is her
best to date
Every song on the album is a wonderfully crafted; whether
it be the highly theatrical yet slightly off kilt opening
track 'Waiting Room' starting of peacefully before exploding
into a theatrical rocker or the tear jerking and doleful
'Henry' or the harrowing lead song and release 'Cocaine'
with it’s frantic piano thrashing; she combines elements
of classical and cabaret to create an all together fresh
and organic sound. Her vocals are undoubtedly captivating,
but this album does more than to just showcase Dean as an
accomplished singer but better yet prove her to be an equally
adept song writer too.
Falling somewhere on the radar between Florence Welshe
and Regina Spektor, The Brisbane native creates her own
sound that is self described as a blend of “Elastic
Pop Theatre”, result, not only because of its infectious
nature but through the manner in which it dips, soars and
evolves like a stage musical. Whatever you want to call
it, with 12 enchanting and larger than life tracks of such
varied yet high calibre, Real Life Computer is an awesome
debut from an awesome artist.
25 September 2008
Reviewer: Dario Western
is a dangerously catchy and dramatic album that demands
your attention...it's one of those rare albums that repays
Intelligent female pop music in Australia is not exactly
a crowded field, but for that matter Emma Dean is a very
crowded and multi-coloured renaissance woman. Being a theatre
performer, music teacher, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist
she is every much in a class of her own despite the many
hats she proudly wears.
Starting out fresh from the Brisbane Conservatorium as
a jazz student having excelled in piano and violin, she
formed her own act Bittersuite which she worked in from
2002 - 2005 and collaborated with Kate Miller-Heidke and
the physical theatre troupe Zen Zen Zo before she finally
decided to proclaim herself as a performer in her own right.
The last few years have been summed up in the intriguingly
titled debut album "Real Life Computer Game".
Her vocals are sensual and sultry, but at the same time
with an authoritative 'don't fuck with me cos I've been
there and done it before' rock attitude.
Every song on the album is a wonderfully crafted gem with
the soft and lilting opener 'Waiting Room' that starts peacefully
then explodes into a theatrical rocker towards the end,
the pizzacato-ish waltz and triangle filled 'Sorry', the
Lisa Loeb-ish 'Orange Red' (which came No.2 in the Courier
Mail's People's Choice songs this year), the tearjerking
and despondent 'Henry', the frantic piano led thrash of
the harrowing 'Cocaine' about muck-raking internet journalists
who spread rumours about her alleged drug use, and the boppy
pomp rock stomp of the title track with quirky harmonies
and biting guitar licks (which I personally think should
have been saved for the last track). Speaking of which,
the final track is the unsuccint "Could This Mean If
Everyone Is Alone We're Together? in The Way That We're
All Together Alone" in which she demonstrates her vocal
acrobatics in a homage to her best friend Angie Miles.
If you like the quirky dark sophistication of acts like
10cc, Sparks and Dresden Dolls together with the cool and
collected rock princesses like Kate Bush, Bjork, Danielle
Dax, Fiona Apple, and Kate Nash then Emma Dean is definitely
worth checking out not only as a recording artist but as
one of Brisbane's most exciting and captivating performers
of this decade.
This is a dangerously catchy and dramatic album that demands
your attention with so much more than meets the ear every
time you hear it, it's one of those rare albums that repays
Go to Top
Magazine, Melbourne, 6 August 2008
Reviewer: Kaz Mitchell
masterpiece; no doubt about it....as fresh and inventive
as I had hoped it would be and easily fits into my top 10
albums of the year so far."
Brisbane artist Emma Dean follows up her highly imaginative
and quirky Face Painter EP with her first full length album,
Real Life Computer Game. Teaming up once again with co producer
Ben Stewart, they have given us a masterpiece; no doubt
Dean has a way with words and melody that
can match Clare Bowditch and Kate Miller Heidke, and should
find her-self as important as those two glorious Aussie
songwriters. Dean has best described her musical style by
coining her music Elastic Pop Theatre. It’s dynamic,
epic and never sits still for a second. Just when you think
you have a grasp of things, off she bounces in another direction.
Don’t misunderstand me and think that means this album
doesn’t have focus, or is so disjointed as to be irritating.
It flows magnificently, with a torrent of emotions and sounds
that will leave you gasping for breath. Take for instance
the title track, a blistering song about seizing the day,
before it’s all too late. Cocaine, a song written
after reading a false report that said she was a cocaine
addict, is frenetic, jagged and deliriously sexy. Even the
gentler songs never quite allow you to settle, and keep
dipping and diving into complex themes both musically and
Death and the afterlife are common themes.
For instance the final track, the wordy Could this mean
if everyone is alone we’re together? / In the way
that we’re all together alone?, are the lines
His arms are reaching to her but he’s blinded
/ By skin over eyes and she’s always reminded / That
when we die we’re always alone. In Dry Land,
a song about the after life (the one after the death of
a relationship) Dean sings Now all I need is time just
on my own / To get used to this body and its new home.
There are many elements to this album which
will take repeat listens to fully appreciate. Real Life
Computer Game is as fresh and inventive as I had hoped it
would be, and easily fits into my top 10 albums of the year
Go to Top
27 Feb - 5 Mar 2007
Reviewer: Bill Holdsworth
new face of Emma Dean's shines surely and brightly."
Local singer-songwriter continues to impress
The title reflects the fact that Emma Dean has been around
in various guises over the years (like, more recently, a
member of Kate Miller-Heidke’s band and a participant
in last year’s Women In Voice). But this second solo
effort shows how the risks she’s taken in her career
moves continue to pay off.
More a mini-LP than the EP it’s billed as, it has
seven wonderfully diverse songs over 25 minutes. She has
her band very much in evidence here, especially on more
pumping tracks like Good Song, but the sound is clearly
shaped by Dean’s piano, violin and Hammond organ playing.
Listen, for example, to how she leans into the keys on Sunday,
then pulls back for a more vulnerable feel. She plays with
a confidence that allows the songs to take some quirky turns
along the way without losing their melodic core. A case
in point? 3 Meals. It has a curious bounce to it, while
Dean puts a few extra twists into her vocal– yet it
ends up being thoroughly engaging. Meanwhile, try not being
moved by the intimacy of Chai Tea or the lilt-to-full-tilt
emotion of Too Fat For Ballet.
This new face of Emma Dean’s shines surely and brightly.
Go to Top
Collected Sounds (collectedsounds.com), 18 Feb 2007
Dean's EP is a great listen."
Emma Dean comes across as a cousin of Nellie McKay at times
this EP. She has a unique take on the sound though.
She makes the spunky "3 meals" sting.
A more sensitive number like "Chai tea" is equally
Dean's vocals and piano resonate as she sings an intriguing
The wonderfully titled"Too Fat for Ballet" resembles
Angie Hart vocally, the words of accepting yourself for
are become striking.
Good song is easy to sing along to.
Dean's EP is a great listen.
Go to Top
Off, Brisbane, 20-26 Dec 2006
second EP...further showcases the extraordinary talent this
This second EP from Brisbane piano chanteuse Emma Dean explodes
with life, and further showcases the extraordinary talent
this 23-year-old possesses.
From the highly infectious opener ‘3 Meals’
and its killer chorus (seriously, you can’t hit the
repeat button quick enough); "Where do I belong? Is
it in your arms or is it somewhere I can learn to be strong?"
to the stunning ‘Chai Tea’, where Dean delivers
an intimate and graceful serenade.
The record echoes Regina Spektor in its flawless exchanges
between rock, pop, jazz and folk; at times you’ll
be jumping around your lounge (‘Good Song’)
and at others you’ll be sharing a revealing glass
of wine with the lady herself (‘Too Fat For Ballet’).
If the thought of finding yourself in a record entices you,
then let Emma Dean guide you.
Go to Top
Out The Washing (2005)
Off, Brisbane, August 2005
pulls off every lilted note with absolute class and chilling
When has this inventive singer/songwriter
ever put a foot wrong? Retiring her folk-pop duo Bittersuite
to strike out on her own, 21-year-old Dean continues to
take risks with her solo work and still pulls off every
lilted note with absolute class and chilling intuitiveness.”