Tag Archives: Emma Kupa

The Hayman Kupa Band, LP, released July 2017

A joyous confluence of the talents of singers/guitarists/songwriters Emma Kupa (also of the Mammoth Penguins, they have a new concept album due soon) and Darren Hayman (currently engaged in the ‘Thankful Villages’ music and arts project, commemorating the villages where all the soldiers in World War One returned home).

Opening track ‘Let’s Do Nothing’ is perhaps a surprising choice to start, it is the longest song and is a slow-burning musical dialogue between the couple. Layered with bittersweet regret and ambiguity behind the sung words it is given the time to build the emotion.
‘No More Bombs’ continues the lyrical tension and traded words but this time over a delicate summery guitar and a quick bass solo. In ‘Red Petals’ the two voices blend in harmony with an up-beat chorus. ‘Over’s Now Overdue’ is a beautifully crafted pop gem, with the irresistible title hook, the band sounds like they are having a great time too. ‘Do You Know’ is a real grower, nostalgically romantic in its simplicity.
‘A Tent Of Blankets’ has the biggest chorus on the LP (…I want you to always be there…) and it works a treat, ‘Pretty Waste Of Time’ is an affecting country ballad.

Emma sings solo for the gorgeous ‘Reach Out’, a subtle and sensitive lyric with acoustic guitar picking and gentle bass, then grand finale ‘Then We Kissed’ showcases how well these songs work with the dual voices.

There are other excellent tracks too and although there is no appearance for previously released single ‘Someone To Care For’ which is also a very fine song there is more than enough to sit back and indulge in here.


Jeffrey Lewis, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 16 December 2015

A strong line-up at the Portland Arms again, first on stage was Emma Kupa; last seen fronting indie-edgy trio Mammoth Penguins she was giving a live debut to solo material, some from the mini-album ‘Home Cinema’. As a six-piece band, the acoustic guitar and banjo lends a country-rock styling to these tales of regret and longing. Emma has a distinctive voice, relaxed and affecting and as in her other band the musical balance allows it to guide the emotion of the song, shown to full effect in ‘Half-Sister’ and the catchy melody of ‘Consequences’.

After that well-received performance six-piece ensemble Model Village played a confident set drawing on their recently released and highly recommended album ‘Healing Centre’, the launch gig reviewed on this site at https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/11/15/model-village-blue-moon-cambridge-13-november-2015/ .

‘Anti-folk’ performer Jeffrey Lewis plays guitar, sings, rants, raps, draws, paints, loops and tells stories and histories. Opening song ‘I Got Lost’ is a simple but heartbreaking acoustic delight, giving way to the political rant of ‘WWPRD’. ‘Support Tours’ is a neat wry summary of the position many bands find themselves in.
There was so much variety in this show; the epic eight minute ‘Back To Manhattan’ then the history of Vietnam narrated by Jeffrey as he leafed through his densely drawn comic book and a stealthy bass line kept it all moving. ‘Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror’ is an intense nightmare train journey with never ending lyric, ‘The Single Thing I Love Most About England’ (..is the food!) is an affectionate tribute and ‘Mosquito Mass-Murderist’ is a cautionary tale….
There was a cover of the Wave Pictures song ‘Too Many Questions’ then ‘Scowling Crackhead Ian’ and ‘Sad Screaming Old Man’ were unnerving characters featured on ‘Manhattan’, the latest album release.

And much, much more. Spot-on contributions from bass and drums kept the music sparking off the words through the whole of this memorable show.

(Quoted from a bbc.co.uk article: Lewis himself does not mind the ‘antifolk’ tag: “I think it’s a cool title. The fact that no one knows what it means, including me, makes it kind of mysterious and more interesting than saying that you’re a singer/songwriter or that you play indie rock..”)


Mammoth Penguins, Corner House, Cambridge, 14 July 2015

A tasty free gig at the Corner House, with Violet Woods (reviewed extensively elsewhere on this site) sounding on great form, big echoing twelve string, organ and explosive drums all in place and bass player Mark Boxall featuring in Mammoth Penguins later too. As well as songs from their self-titled album there was also a new unrecorded song and a French interlude to celebrate Bastille Day.

Violet Woods have an album to be proud of, as now do Mammoth Penguins, with new disc ‘Hide And Seek’ forming the majority of their set. The packed-in and very hot audience warmed to the stripped back and very tight sound, a balance that often only the classic guitar, bass, drums line-up can achieve. Emma Kupa sings tales of grown-up disappointment, regret and hope, mostly distilled into three minute bursts of indie joy with biting lyrics floating on great bass/drum interplay and sharp guitar.

‘Propped Up’, ‘Played’, ‘Strength In My Legs’ are all neat snapshots and ‘March Of The Penguins’ is pure pop delight cloaking a bitter summary of rejection. A promising unrecorded song ‘Put It All On You’ showed a different direction with all of the band contributing vocals and then they finished with the dark chronicle of perceived failure ‘When I Was Your Age’ with the closing line ‘I’m going nowhere…’

Perfect summer listening, deserving a much bigger audience…