“I’m just a fire,” Emily Wells sings on her album Regards to the End, her ethereal warble floating over a backbeat of drums. “Burn everything in sight.” And so she does, in a new body of work that smolders and scorches, wounding and illuminating in equal turn. The polymathic composer, producer, and video artist explores the AIDS crisis, climate change, and her lived experience - as a queer musician from a long line of preachers, watching the world burn - in immaculately layered yet spare songs that impel the listener to be attuned, acting like a magnet on our attention.
Along with a roster of contributors including her father, a French horn player and former music minister, she builds the songs on Regards to the End from deliberate strata of vocals, synths, drums, piano, string instruments (violin, cello, bass), and wind instruments (clarinet, flute, French horn). The music is numinous in part because the listening experience is a resoundingly bodied one. Life - unsanitary, beautiful, persistent, brief - swells inside of every note.