Em Spel is the solo project of Chicago-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emma Hospelhorn (who is also a flutist in the incredible Ensemble Dal Niente). She covers a lot of fertile ground on her forthcoming album The Carillon Towers. “Overstory,” the first single, uses looping arrangements that grow and shift in surprising ways while still hanging onto a natural cadence. Spel’s voice is the focal point, though, as it cuts through all the sonic layers with a timelessness that’s somehow both comforting and direct.
This organic flow makes sense considering the inspiration behind the song. Hospelhorn explains, “ I had been reading Richard Powers’ beautiful book Overstory, and a loop I had been working on made me think of trees slowly growing,” she continues, “I decided to write a song from the perspective of a tree, and to try to develop musical ideas in the song one small element at a time, similar to the way trees “communicate” through their root networks.” Lilting arpeggios mesh with otherworldly piccolo and bass flute that add hints of whimsy. It’s a fantastic, lush song that’s unusual arrangements heighten its connection point.
Em Spel’s The Carillon Towers will be released on May 20. Listen and pre-order below.