At first glance, EMA does not seem like obvious grist for the internet mill. Her track record with Gowns, Amps for Christ and as an early solo performer was noted but far from incendiary, while her sole album – 'Past Life Martyred Saints' – failed to trouble the charts in the United States. As a solo performer, her bio could also be considered a hard sell for the marketing department: an American female singer-songwriter covering topics from self-harm to broken love and life in California.

So far, so average. But over the past year, particularly here in London, Erika Anderson has grown in stature to be considered one of the most exciting artists presently recording. That is no overstatement. The praise from the most sober of judges has been just shy of universal, while her growing fanbase is always sincere, but often fanatical.

It is on stage that this contradiction is explained. 'Past Life Martyred Saints', regardless of its commercial success or otherwise, was one of the most celebrated albums of 2011. Showcasing a sometimes vulnerable, sometimes confrontational and always entertaining EMA, the record took in everything from whispered folk to borderline violent, cathartic rock.

Presenting the album, the live performance veers toward the latter, with Anderson joined by a violinist, second guitarist and drummer to beef up the recorded sound. The show is part confession, part theatre and part posture. One moment, dressed in red hot-pants and fairy-lights, she swings a glitter ball around her head before smashing it onto the floor. The next she coos seductively into the microphone under pale white light. Linking the two, and the secret of her success, is the raw intensity of her performance. Her work is not a collection of callous observations of others’ suffering, but an explicit chronicle of the hardships encountered in her daily life. 'Grey Ships', 'Butterfly Knife' and 'Anteroom' all capture this, drawing a strong feeling of empathy from the crowd during a moving performance.

'Red Star' and 'California' close out the show, perhaps in the wrong order, with the latter rather tacked onto the climatic closing track of 'Past Life', but EMA is poised for great things. Nearly a year to the day since the release of debut album, she has gone from virtual unknown to one of the most talked about underground artists out there.

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