“When you’re in your Sunday Best, you know I’m scared to tell the truth,” Emily Bateman coos on her shimmering sophomore single.
Emily Bateman has navigated the complexities of a newfound love on Sunday Best, an acoustic-driven ballad that serves as the singer-songwriter’s sophomore single.
Opening with the rustic warmth of a guitar melody, the track rightfully forefronts Bateman’s vocals, which she delivers with the effortless ease of a whisper.
The intimacy of Bateman’s timbre remains the major drawcard of Sunday Best, not least because the surrounding sonics are blissfully sparse.
Here, producers Dave Rowlands and Tom Broome make use only of bare bones instrumentation, save for the subtle shimmer of a tambourine and dazzling, slow-tempo keys.
While Sunday Best stands as a testament to the beauty that arises from restraint — with unflashy production and lulling rhythmic percussion — that’s not to say the single is one-dimensional.
Bateman adds texture through layered vocal harmonies, so airy they might just touch the heavens, and elsewhere flits between delicate delivery and more sombre tones, to the point where her voice becomes an instrument all unto itself.
It’s the kind voice that hails from the same ilk as Bateman’s singer-songwriter peers like Olivia Rodrigo or Mazzy Star, and proves to be the perfect tool for the soft-spoken delivery of Sunday Best’s story.
Here, the singer looks back wistfully on the intricacies of a fresh romance, recalling a paramore who is “better than the rest” and makes her “stop dead in her tracks.”
Bateman sings of first-time love with tenderness and candour, far removed from the oft-scathing portrayals of love we’ve come to expect from pop singers.
While it’s undeniably nostalgic, you can sense that Bateman has wrapped up in her muse a complex array of awe, intimidation and even guilt.
It’s a level of vulnerability you’d expect from an artist ten years’ her senior, but Sunday Best is especially impressive given that it marks Bateman’s second-ever release.
It follows debut single October Best, and kickstarts what’s sure to be a breakout moment for one of Auckland’s most promising voices.
Bateman plans on continuing that success with a third single in the coming months, but in the meantime, you can listen to her latest single Sunday Best below.