Scars – Emma Withers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Scars is one of those songs which goes beyond merely being a pop song, if pop it even is. It runs on a balladic, throbbing, understated musical line, energised by a wave of tension and a dark undercurrent, melodic certainly but more hypnotic and beguiling than what you might call infectious. But that is a major selling point. Songs which are easily labelled infectious usually have a fairly short shelf life, a quick musical hit soon replaced by the next fad or fashion. Scars goes deeper than that, it gets under your skin, helped by the fact that Emma Withers brings a voice to the song that would be more usually found in rock than in the pop cannon and the minimalism of the song means that it is that which becomes the focal point rather than the gimmicks and sonic tricks that pop loves so much.

And again, unlike most pop music, Scars has a message. The video shows a women having make-up applied, but the lyrical content of the song turns this simple act of beautification into something more. Is she wearing make-up to hide her real self from the world? Is this a metaphor for something we all do, creating masks to hide certain aspects of ourselves, physical or otherwise, from the world’s gaze? Scars may not provide any answers but it gives you a lot to think about and when was the last time a pop song did that?

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