Review: Emilie Autumn

by Stacy McKeigue
(stacy.mckeigue@valpo.edu)

Emilie Autumn: From Concept Album to Concept Art

I love it when a song tells a story. Not just a moment in time experienced by the songwriter, but a full narrative with a main character, a compelling arc, and a climax. The only thing better than that, musically, is a concept album, in which multiple tracks are combined to tell one large tale. The self-proclaimed “Victoriandustrial” artist Emilie Autumn does just this with her album Fight Like a Girl, but she doesn’t stop there.

After a stay in a Los Angeles psychiatric ward a few years ago, Autumn produced the novel The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, a historically fictional account, set in 1845, loosely based on her experiences at the hospital. From there, she translated the book into music, creating a concept album centered around a young Victorian girl named Emily, who is locked up for having thoughts unbecoming of a woman of that time. Her concert performances are elaborate and dramatic, spanning two and a half hours and involving numerous costume changes. But the effect, from what I’ve seen from videos on iTunes, is breathtaking.

As I’ve said, the fictional Emily’s journey doesn’t end there. Autumn announced recently that her next feat is to turn the album and concert performances into a full-blown musical. Just like in her shows, Emilie Autumn will play the lead, with her backup singers and dancers, The Bloody Crumpets, portraying the other girls in the asylum. In an interview with Daily Local News, the singer-songwriter shared a few insights into the musical, which includes a new, never-before-seen Bloody Crumpet and a holographic set that will aid her in playing two versions of herself simultaneously.

Never before have I seen a musical concept travel this far: from book, to disc, to concert hall, to stage. The Plague Rats (the title given to her fans) and I wait anxiously to see what this violin-wielding wonder will bring us next.

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