Ember Knight- CHERYL (Album Review)
CHERYL, the sophomore album by Los Angeles based artist, Ember Knight, is a lovely yet bizarre exploration of what a Rock Opera can truly be. Set in an alternate society, CHERYL explores the story of a girl who wakes up one morning and cannot seem to remember what her favorite color is. Not remembering this little fact about herself gets her committed to an asylum. Cheryl is not able to get out until she remembers what her favorite color is. As you can see, Ember Knight puts a lot of thought and conceptualization into their art, which is a trait that adds so much charm to what they are doing on this 37 minute album. The music would sound right at home on a Broadway stage, yet has the edge it needs to be enjoyable on it’s own.
From the start, we are transported into this world that sounds so full of life. It feels familiar to an extent, but also foreign, which is a characteristic that many works of art set in an alternate dimension seem to miss out on. Cheryl’s story, not only is about not knowing what her favorite color is however, like any good work of art rooted in something as abstract as this, there are various sub plots that take place within the music. Cheryl not only is trying to gain the memory of what her favorite color is, but is also trying to navigate this world as she begins to form new feelings about her society and the people around her. She’s also battling so many things within her mind as this journey is taking place in this asylum. This is almost more about Cheryl’s coming of age story more than it is about her finally remembering what her favorite color is. It’s this attention to detail that really makes this particular record stick out in the sea that is the endless pool of weekly releases.
The instrumentation on this album also makes it special, as we get a very full sound, partially due to the fact that Ember Knight was able to record this album inside of a Church, and I think it really adds to the overall feel of this record in a big way. This is an ambitious record to record for an artist of any size, and the overall tone really bodes well for what they are trying to create on CHERYL. It’s a story that feels so natural being told in this epic way, and has so many great peaks and valleys to look forward to. It all comes together though on the standout track, which for me is Mvt. VII- Home. This is the grand road home for our protagonist, and it feels like Ember is in their natural songwriting habitat on this track, as it builds up to this conclusion that confirms we have slayed this metaphorical mental beast, and it feels like a righteous victory tune to carry us to the epilogue.
CHERYL is a release worth looking into, even if it is just for the description of the bizarre story alone, this record is a fantastic example of a very underappreciated artist making something that is almost beyond words. Ember creates this world and this story that we can visualise right off the bat and fully emerses us in this experience of an album. When I heard that there was a film coming (hopefully) based on the concept of this album, I was so excited, as it feels so cinematic and ready for the big screen right now. Ember showcases their creativity throughout the 37 minutes of this album and I cannot thank them enough for giving us such a great piece of art to fall into.
Favorite tracks: Mvt VII.- Home, Mvt I.- Morning Lasagna
Least favorite track: Mvt. II- Danza Rossa
Listen to Mvt. VII- Home, off of Ember Knight's latest album, CHERYL, below: