Singer-songwriters and pessimism tend to go hand in hand, but 21-year-old UCF student and musician Emily Kopp is the rare exception. Free from the self-loathing and bitterness that take up the airwaves, Kopp’s wide-eyed optimism is a refreshing change of pace.
On her soon to be released debut CD, Potential, Kopp showcases her talents that helped make her into one of Orlando’s most acclaimed local musicians—but compared to her early acoustic solo performances, Potential sounds bolder, richer, and more refined. This notable step-up can be attributed in no small part to her band whose contributions, from vivacious to subtle, are the backbone of Potential. Additionally, producer Justin Beckler is keenly aware of Kopp’s sonic influences, and as a result, Potential gives listeners a vibe similar to that of Kopp’s favorite artists (Michelle Branch and John Mayer come to mind).
The record opens up gracefully with “Potential,” a slow burning ballad guided by Carey Frank’s clinking piano and Nasrulah Rahbari’s steady bass. “Call me naïve but I refuse to believe that we all must end up cynical about things,” Kopp sings with an assurance that, given the fact she is early in her career, not only confirms that she is here for the long haul, but is also a stirring testament to her tone of bright and breezy positivity that pervades this release.
“How Did We Get Here” comes next. This is not only Kopp’s strongest singing performance–her voice elevates an octave or two in the bridge—but it could be her best track overall to date. “A touch, a kiss, an argument like this,” Kopp sings, and then the song kicks into overdrive: Drummer Mason Fox’s cymbals clash, and Kopp leads a home run chorus that would make Maroon 5 jealous.
Track three, “Thank You,” is Kopp’s tender homage to those who have helped her along the way. “I’m driving home, walk through the door my parents still pay for, just so I can play a song” she emotes. Her lyrics, though fairly simple on paper, are transcended by Kopp’s warm and blissful vocal delivery, making “Thank You” a deeply affecting song.
After “Thank You” is “Happiness Comes,” and here’s where things get a little bit grittier. The song rides a bluesy riff courtesy of guitarist Abe Alam. But the track’s highlight is the final breakdown, where backed by a solid rhythm section, Kopp sings soulfully while Alam shreds a guitar solo as if he was the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn.
“Just Clothes” is the last track on the CD, and the jazziest of the bunch. In this song, Kopp reveals her dubiousness for the true value of material possessions: “You might have a Beamer, but that car can’t buy you health,” she belts. In today’s day and age, with people focused on money more than ever, Kopp admirably recognizes the importance of the intangibles. “Just Clothes” ends the CD on a pensive, but cheerful note.
Overall, if Emily Kopp continues to possess the same knack for songwriting in a year or so from now, there’s no doubt that she’ll go far. Maybe she will blossom into a full-on star. But for now, we have these five original songs, and every one of them is worth listening to.
Emily Kopp will be performing in Orlando at The Plaza ‘Live’ on Saturday, November 19th, at 9pm. Tickets for the show are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Each ticket purchase comes with a free copy of the CD.