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Emily Herring

Gliding – 2017 (Eight 30)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by Emily Herring

Emily Herring is a classic country singer in the vein of Rosie Flores and Heather Myles. Unlike those Californians, though, Herring is from Austin and her music has the dancehall feel of authentic Texas honky-tonks. This, her fourth record, was produced by instrumentalist Steve Fishell (Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, and prominently features his pedal steel and Dobro chops alongside those of twang master Redd Volkaert. Seven of the 10 crisply rendered tunes are Herring originals, with equal measures of energy, sass, swagger and heartbreak.

Although it's tempting to read a laid-back attitude into the album's title, Herring approaches the term differently. She says, "Gliding's a movement with a certain stillness attached," You're at the mercy of the wind along with the extreme force of gravity. The title track leads you off the ledge and into a moment where time stands still, your thoughts slowly moving through what could have been with only the implication of the inevitable." She pays that thought off with this line in the song, "Now I've got one hand on the telephone when I slip and hit the gas/No time to stop myself from gliding."

Herring unintentionally conjured up prevailing themes of sadness that are, for the most part, disguised by the rolling music. The chorus in "Right Behind Her" is particularly arresting, indicating that if her mother were to die, she would be right behind her. As fate would have it, her mother passed a year after the song was written. Fortunately, Herring is still very much here presenting poignant songs in "Last of the Houston Honkytonk Heroes," wailing heartbreak in "Balmorhea" and spiritual uplift in "Gettin' By." She reveals her country crooning side on the Bryant/Adkins chestnut "Midnight," revs it up on her cover of Commander Cody's "Semi Truck" and collaborates with the tune's writer, Mary Cutrufello, on "All the Millers in Milwaukee."

There is an important anecdote gleaned from Herring's own liner notes. She thanks her dad for inviting her to Fishell's Music Producer's Institute class where she watched Fishell and Radney Foster re-record Foster's album "Del Rio, Texas Revisited: Unplugged and Lonesome." Foster's original was the first country album that Herring ever bought, and she knew then that she'd do her next album with Fishell. That fortuitous meeting paid dividends.

Singing and writing are Herring's nighttime jobs as she is an auto mechanic during the day. It's interesting to ponder how many of her customers realize that she's a talented artist as well.