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Emma-Lee Moss, born and raised in Hong Kong, embarked on a journey that led her to fame in London and eventually to the United States in 2014. The complex interplay of her identity is evident in her fourth album, crafted amid the transformative landscapes of New York and Hong Kong.
The album delves into the intricacies of this dual existence, grappling with the sense of not wholly belonging to any single place. Against the backdrop of global shifts and the aftermath of Trump’s election, Moss found herself drawn to her roots. The resulting musical narrative weaves together the ever-changing landscapes of New York and Hong Kong, both undergoing profound transformations.
In the track “Dandelions/Liminal,” Moss poses a poignant question, capturing the essence of these liminal days: “Are you looking for straight lines?” The song, with its jaunty and bubblegum-poppy vibe, serves as a lens through which American protest is viewed from the perspective of Chinese Buddhism.
The cosmic journey continues with “Chang-E,” an exploration of Chinese-American connections intertwined with the myth of a queen who, stealing the elixir of youth, escapes to the moon with a white rabbit. This myth is juxtaposed against Buzz Aldrin’s promise during the 1969 moon landing to keep an eye out for the mythical bunny girl.
“April / 月音” unfolds as a lush and exploratory piece, blending Cantonese vocals, singing bowls, and samples of Hong Kong traffic lights into Moss’s folk-pop. The result is a stirring composition that, much like its creator’s journey, never settles into a safe resting place.
The year 2019 marked a significant chapter in Moss’s story as Hong Kong erupted in protests against China’s new security laws. Faced with this turmoil, Moss, accompanied by her baby daughter (whose voice makes a cameo in the album on “Heart Sutra”), chose to leave. The track becomes a poignant reflection on finding belonging in forward motion, with the lyrics expressing a determination to walk out into the world “All open and clear.”
In essence, Emma-Lee Moss’s album encapsulates a rich tapestry of emotions, cultural influences, and the evolving sense of identity shaped by the dynamic intersections of her life across continents and amid significant historical moments.
1 Mid Autumn / 月音
3 Dandelions / Liminal
5 A Window / O'Keeffe
6 Okinawa / Ubud
7 Your Hallucinations
9 Hollywood Road / April
10 Heart Sutra
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