Emily Hurd "Long Lost Ghosts"
This may be hard to admit, true Brit that I am, but there's something about a certain brand of first rate Americana music that has to be performed by American artists for it to work. Ok, so the Rolling Stones did a good job with the music and lyrical styles of the genre, but there's more to it. A record like 'Long Lost Ghosts' captures that old time raw spirit of the West in a fashion that seeps down through the genes and courses through the blood.
Emily Hurst provides a soundtrack to small town blues, love affairs and timeless road trips, all with a voice so rich and full of authority that you just have to believe her. Eight albums in and Chicago based Hurd seems to be in a good place. A solid band headed by Chicago session man and producer John Abbey has, along with her own recently proclaimed sense of well being resulted in a plethora of idealistic, though not exclusively cheery folk songs.
The title track sets the scene for what's to come. It's a simple but alluring reminiscence of young love and returning home to retrieve it the American way - with a chugging beat on a Greyhound bus. The poetic 'A Lot Like' is cleverly arranged and showcases Hurd's talent for vocal ad-libbing, while 'My Favourite Part' is the first really upbeat song. It has a catchy melody and optimistic lyrics, ditto 'I Love You Too' and the Chrissy Hynde-esque 'I Won't Tell a Soul'; all examples of the idealism mentioned earlier.
At times the production is less frayed than I might have led you to believe; 'Irreparably Yours' with it's crystal clear piano and strings collaboration draws you into Hurd's world. When she sings "You broke my heart in a nice way...I'm broken down on your highway" you know you've reached a critical point in the journey. The pure romance of 'Easy Call' is the final track and leaves us giving silent thanks that there is still a place for the Emily Hurd's of this world. You'll find it hard not to be affected by her shimmering voice and honest roots music.
Oh, and by the way, she wrote the songs on a home made ukelele while out of action with a neck injury. In the words of Tom Petty, "She was an American girl...."