If I told you that North Londoner Emma Topolski has been a backing vocalist for long-time friend Laura Marling and participated in her ‘Reversal Of The Muse’ project, what would you expect from her own solo project, Saint Clair? If you imagined you’d be in for some thoughtful folk, then prepare to be surprised. Under the alias Saint Clair, Topolski makes bold, invigorating pop music and with the upcoming release of her debut EP ‘D1’ in May, she’s ramping up the anticipation with the release of her new Ben Jones-produced single ‘Train.’
Building on a drifting, somewhat melancholic piano melody and reverberating, bassy synth tones, ‘Train’ soon adds snapping percussion and slowly ramps up before reaching a climactic, soulful peak of powerful synthpop. It’s beautifully restrained, knowing exactly when to hold back and when to let go, even including the sound of trains pulling in and out of London Bridge station for an extra atmospheric touch.
The spaciousness of the melodies also allows Topolski’s vocals to really shine. Having begun her musical career as a jazz singer, she evokes the same sense of pained earnestness of the genre’s greats, even kicking off with the deeply honest proclamation that “I lost myself to the one I love.” By the end of the track, she’s not entirely ready to face the world again properly, instead having to “hide the pain,” but is determined to “fight it like a hurricane.” The raw power Saint Clair gradually generates here will blow you away like a gust of wind that’s off the Beaufort Scale.