The Wildfire World of Linda Em

Ange Chan profiles the ‘London Irish’ singer-songwriter, and looks ahead to Linda’s forthcoming EP launch gig next month.

Linda Em – photo by John Dawson.

London-based, Irish-born songstress Linda Em produces music in an extraordinary mix of influences and genres blending London/Irish folk, a touch of rock music, melody from her Celtic roots, and influences from American blues. She’s recently announced her new EP, London Irish, which will be released next September via Talking Elephant Records.

Ahead of that, the first single from this release Wild Fire is a sultry song that has distinct undertones of Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s Where the Wild Roses Grow; parallels have also been drawn with the late, great Kirsty MacColl, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame, and Marianne Faithful, which can be no bad thing!

The song Wild Fire is about the power struggle in a relationship built on control and passion, where there can be no winner.  Written by Linda Em and Eamon Gilmore, Linda shares vocal duties with collaborator, Gavin Glass.

This is definitely more of love story or indeed a power battle. If you watch Game of Thrones, for instance, you’ll see that Wild Fire was one of their deadly weapons of choice. The fear of wild fire is indeed a fantastic metaphor for human passion and love and energy that could not be controlled or tamed.  The song is also an expression of a woman’s desire for freedom and the sadness that comes when two lovers simply aren’t right for each other. Even if they have this intense love, we realise as we get older, that love alone just isn’t enough,” says Linda.

This EP is a new direction for Linda, towards a more atmospheric sound and vocal performance.  It is both poetic and has a raw, personal element to her storytelling.  Her pure vocals convey a nostalgic lyrical narrative, drawing the listener into her musical story telling.

London Irish was recorded, produced and mastered at Orphan Recording in Dublin by Gavin Glass who has worked with Paul Brady, John Grant, Lisa Hannigan, Mundy, and who is also music director for John Carney’s film, Sing Street.  It was mixed by Scott Halliday who has also worked with John Grant, Lisa Hannigan and was previously guitar tech for Prince and James Vincent McMorrow.

Originally hailing from Waterford, Ireland, Linda’s family immigrated to London’s East End in the 1980s.  Her music explores a wide array of themes from forgotten fateful stories and uncelebrated heroines of the past, to her own personal and family experiences.  Linda first started singing blues and rock ’n’ roll in pubs and clubs in her early twenties before meeting Chris Wyatt, with whom she wrote and recorded her first album Shadow Lands in 2015.  Her sound has grown to adopt strong elements of Americana and folk noir with an ominous and atmospheric Celtic undercurrent to it and splashes of gospel and soul.

Linda Em – photo by John Dawson.

As a lyricist I’m telling a story and, through working with producer Gavin Glass, I think the musical side reflects and illustrates that. Gavin has managed to give the songs and sound a strong cohesiveness even though the songs are all written with different people,” says Linda.

Linda draws an ethereal energy flow from her inspirations citing numerous artists as influences, including Leonard Cohen, Edith Piaf, Nina Simone, Portishead, Hank Williams, Ennio Morricone and the poetry of Ted Hughes.

Linda has been on the folk circuit with Julie Felix for a number of years and has been on the same bill at a variety of folk festivals.  She performed Wild Fire at Julie’s 80th birthday concert earlier in 2018, and on the same night performed with musical legends Madeline Bell, John Paul Jones and John Cameron of Les Miserables fame, during the finale.

Linda Em will be playing an show in London to launch the EP, on 26th September at The Water Rats with support by Crayon Angels and JMK James, with very special guest.

Her band for the night is a Who’s Who of the music industry including bass player Colin Farley who played for Cutting Crew and John Parr in the 1980s.

Ian ‘Quince’ Parker is on keyboards for the night.  Impressively, Ian has played keyboards with The Hollies since 1991 and with Clannad since 1988, extensively touring the world and recording with both bands. He has also played with a vast array of musical talent including Elkie Brooks, Killing Joke, and Joan Armatrading amongst a plethora of other legendary acts, and has been Musical Director for Percy Sledge, The Chi-Lites, The Drifters and Del Shannon.

Peter Stroud of Bad Influence joins the band for the night, with Grammy award-winning artist and original soul man, William Bell. Ian Montague, who has been part of Linda’s band for a long time and as well as playing guitar, has also written the track Two Hands with Linda.  Finally, and complementing Ian is long-term collaborator Del Halpin on slide and electric guitars.

It promises to be quite the show with a few surprises along the way!


❉ The ‘London Irish’ EP will be available through the regular online stores and streaming platforms as of September 21, 2018, and will also be available on CD from Talking Elephant Records.

Linda Em will be playing a show in London to launch the EP, on 26th September at The Water Rats (19:30 – 22:30, 328 Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross) with support by Crayon Angels and JMK James, with very special guest.

❉ Keep up with Linda Em:
Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Soundcloud | iTunes | Spotify | Press contact

Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her latest collection of poetry, Songs of Sorrow and Heartbreak, was published in October 2017.  Her third novel Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots is currently a ‘work in progress’.

All photos by John Dawson

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