Survival Guide - Live and Alone (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Survival Guide

Live and Alone (2018)

srvvlgd records

Emily Whitehurst has one of the best voices in punk rock, even though it’s hard to classify anything she’s done recently as punk. The former Tsunami Bomb singer put out the synth driven Way to Go in 2015 under the name Survival Guide. While a far cry from her roots, Whitehurst’s vocals were as unmistakable as ever.

Now, Whitehurst has stripped Way to Go of all excess guaranteeing Live and Alone lives up to its name. The record is eight previously released tracks rerecorded with just piano and vocals, every bit as amazing and heartbreaking as it sounds. The loneliness of the lyrics is only amplified by the live recording in the Regency Ballroom’s Lodge in San Francisco in front of no one. Though, it is easy to imagine an audience of hushed spectators listening to these powerful vocals. “Prohibition” opens the album and it’s one of the strongest performances, as she sings, “How to solve your problems using alcohol.” But the repetitive “run” that follows digs deeper. All the songs are labeled “acoustic” and with so many former punk singers opting for solo guitar records, the piano is refreshing. She proves it was the right move for these songs, especially during the hook on “Get Your Don’t.” The effect would work with a lesser singer, but Whitehurst’s goal is to make these as devastating as possible. She delivers.

Whitehurst has almost always been put front and center with any of her respective bands, but on Live and Alone there’s nothing else to distract you from that voice.