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Vicky Emerson

Steady Heart – 2019 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by Vicky Emerson

Hailing from the Minneapolis area, evolving singer-songwriter Vicky Emerson is increasingly taking things into own hands. For "Steady Heart" her fourth release, she is the producer, arranger, mixer and promoter. These are mostly originals penned alone or with a co-writer, along with a scintillating cover of Crystal Gayle's classic "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue." Emerson has a similar pure breathy alto like Gayle too.

The title track is a love song written for her husband. She claims that it was the first song she wrote starting from a place of love and then going sincerely to some vulnerable places. An example of the latter is the lead single "The Reckoning," co-written with Graham Bramblett - "I hear the hive a buzzin', I feel the storm rolling in. Like thunder chasing the lightning, I never knew how this would end. "They say the heat can drive you crazy, break you down like you're gonna lose a fight. Story looks a little hazy. All these shadows could use a little light. It's hard to believe that you don't see what I see."

Emerson slows the tempo for Gayle's tune, making it bluesy, infused by Jake Armerding's mournful fiddle, which is the principal sound for most of these folk-like tunes, with octave violin and classical influences on some of them.

Along with "The Reckoning," the two most radio friendly cuts are the opener "In the Pines" and "Bird's Eye View." The music is mostly rendered calmly and elegantly with "Stone Cold" having some slight stomping. Some tunes become dreamy and ethereal like the aptly titled "Disappear." The closing "Boat Song" is a lullaby as Emerson hits some simple piano notes in accompaniment.

Emerson has come into her own in more way than one. This is appealing music with well-constructed songs gorgeous vocals, and stellar, rather moody fiddle playing.