Hip-hop, classical and folk may seem like a trio of disparate genres, but virtuosic violinist Emily Wells has fashioned herself a makeshift style from them nonetheless. The Texan songsmith is blessed with elfin pipes and deft digits; she's been around for a while now, and has released a fair amount of material, but her latest full-length, Mama, will be the first record she releases in the UK. Her collaboration with Count Bass D ('Symphony 3: The Story') is perhaps her biggest achievement this side of the pond, but her renown is sure to skyrocket in the aftermath of Mama.

'Passenger', the lead single, is a farrago of rap beats and luscious sweeping strings. There's a gospel organ, her piercing off-kilter vocals and pizzicato plucks. It suffers from a serious identity crisis in the best way possible - it shouldn't work, but it really does - imagine Caitlin Rose crossed with Vampire Weekend and you'll probably be in the right-ish ballpark. 'Dirty Sneakers and Underwear' is similarly incoherent. A rattling snare permeates cellos and chamber-pop strings, and Well's theatrical speak-sing ably combines her two favourite vocal styles to mirror the instruments' odd couple-ness. Even so, these two tracks are bubblegum pop when lined up next to some of her past endeavours.

As previously mentioned, she's been active for a while. In fact, she started by self-releasing Midori Sour way back in 1999, almost fifteen years ago - though she was a tweenager at the time. She's been constantly releasing trickles of sound Stateside, with a handful of records under her belt and notoriety on the live circuit. Considering the thickness of her textures, and that she's a solo artist, you'd be forgiven for expecting her to use backing tracks for shows, but no. Not one to do things by half measures, Wells creates her own loops right in front your eyes, much like KT Tunstall has been known for, or like Ed Sheeran used to do before he developed Diva Syndrome.

'Darlin'' is pretty straightforward country. It notably lacks the amalgam of hip-hop and folk that she's famous for. It's light, airy even, and though it's accompanied by an unreal, smoky synth, it's more obviously related to dusty Americana than electronica. Her Southern drawl doesn't do much to dissuade that notion. 'Let Your Guard Down' is a vaguely bluesy slab of classical lounge jazz, opening with a desolate guitar and her coquettish vox. There's a faint smattering of percussion and shivering violin, but for the most part, again, she eschews what's she's known for.

She's drawn comparisons to St. Vincent, Joanna Newsom and Lana Del Rey (!?), but she's technically been around longer than all three. She's been recording by herself since before the millennium, though her first 'official' release wasn't until 2007, so it's potentially up for debate. Regardless, the comparisons feel a bit lazy. She's quirky, so she's plonked next to Newsom. She's dramatic so Del Rey is the go-to gal. She's experimental and ethereal so St. Vincent springs to mind. Realistically, she defies comparison - how many neo-classical folk-hop singer-songwriters can you name?

Mama is competent and comfortable, maybe even 'safe'. It is very good, but after listening to some of her back catalogue, especially Symphonies..., it feels a bit tame, and you'll pine for the wacky experiments of before. As it stands, it showcases her mainstream sensibilities and the range of her talents: you can tell she's adept at any instrument she touches. Now if she'd relinquish the blinkers and the shackles of self-awareness, we'd see something spectacular. This has some great cuts, but as a whole, it's not the highlight of her career.