On “This Love Won’t Break Your Heart,” one of the brightly optimistic tracks on Annalise Emerick’s highly acclaimed debut EP, Starry-Eyed, the Boston based singer-songwriter engages a few bars from “Auld Lang Syne” in a tale about spending the perfect New Year’s Eve among longtime friends whose encouragement and support never fails. Since moving to New England in late summer 2011, Emerick has made countless more never-fail friends and fans thanks to whirlwind slate of live performances and the immediate success of her seven track collection, which debuted on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart at #9 its first day. The collection prompted an outpouring of attention from the national blog scene and a spotlight on CD Baby’s Music Discovery Podcast, which assured its listeners: “Fans of Ingrid Michaelson will feel right at home.”
Emerick’s engaging acoustic driven style and heartfelt, quirky lyrics may find her right at home among fans of Eva Cassidy, Patty Griffin and her musical idol Brandi Carlisle—whose 2010 concert in Nashville inspired Emerick to commit to following her truest heart as an artist. But in many ways the singer is a gypsy, a poet of the people always restlessly exploring the notion of “home” musically, emotionally and geographically. She’s claimed many places as musical lovers, growing up in Austin and Seattle and studying music at Belmont University in Nashville, where she later recorded her debut with producer Brad Hill and top Music City musicians at Hill Studios.
But several charmed summers during college as a camp counselor in Maine and New Hampshire somehow made New England feel like the perfect place to launch her musical career. She wrote the dreamy acoustic track “You Win” as a way to make peace with her original dreams of making it in Nashville. She recounts the challenges, but doesn’t hold the city itself responsible. “I moved to Boston to get a fresh start,” she says. “It doesn’t have the industry, but it is a city filled with amazing musicians and discerning fans. It’s a place where my kind of folk-influenced pop is appreciated.”
Emerick is off to a remarkable start since moving to New England at the beginning of September 2011, performing at the Colonial Inn in Concord, The Cantab, TCAN, Amazing Things Art Center, 6b Lounge, Lizard Lounge, The Hard Rock Cafe, The Nameless Coffeehouse, The National Underground in NYC, All Asia, Johnny D’s (on “Chick Singer Night”), Think Tank and the Radio Bean in Burlington, Vermont. Though Nashville seems like a long time ago in the musical life of this gypsy, the singer performed numerous times there as well, at such clubs as Bongo Java, 12th and Porter, Massey Performing Arts Center, Curb Café and 3rd and Lindsley. While continuing to build a regional following, Emerick’s longterm goals include licensing her music for film and television and doing a tour during summer 2012 either as a headliner in small venues or as the opening act for a major artist.
The singer originally planned to move from Music City to Beantown before recording a CD, but her college friend and fellow artist John Flanagan—who eventually put her in touch with producer Brad Hill—suggested that she make the move “armed” with a recorded project. Emerick feels that the seven songs on Starry-Eyed—including heartfelt, richly detailed relationship songs like “Round and Round,” “A Runner and a Singer” and a seductive, “Annalising” of the classic “Stand By Me”—show her as a person and an artist from all sides. Reviewing the EP for The Deli, a website “all about the New England bands,” Sarah Ruggiero captured the arc of Emerick’s story perfectly: “The album follows the story of a young woman who learns to stand her own ground and rely on herself, but without sounding jaded… In the beginning, she admits she was “starry-eyed and full of hope,” but when she gets her heart broken, she knows better than to let others get the best of her…With its innocent and thoughtful lyricism, Starry-Eyed focuses some of its attention on looking back...But more importantly, the core of the album is about moving forward.”
“When I decided to officially record the CD in early 2011, I looked at the material I had and realized I needed more variety and deeper songs,” Emerick says. “So I was given this amazing opportunity to write songs for an album that could be whatever I wanted. I knew I had the songs in me but I hadn’t been writing as much as I needed to be writing. I knew I wanted a song about loving and leaving Nashville, another about my summer love, a song about my long relationship that seemed to never end and one about my friends from summer camp who get together every year on New Year’s Eve and have a big party. I feel like the songs had been waiting inside me to be written and when they finally came to life, it was magical. If people want to get to know me, all they need to do is listen to my EP and hear the lyrics. It’s all there, an open book. I want people to feel connected to me and my songs—everything I sang on Starry-Eyed is true, pure feeling and emotion.”
Starry-Eyed is available via iTunes, Amazon.com and CD Baby. [+]