“A two-lane highway is more than a road. It’s the only place I ever feel at home.”
--Lyrics from ‘County Line’
Close your eyes and bring back a memory of your first road trip. The wind blowing through your hair, the adventure of discovering the unknown and unfamiliar, the freedom of solitude, the skylines of cities, the farmers tending to their crops, the sun rising and setting, the tires rumbling over the highway, the radio static, and the hours gently moving with every mile. This gypsy lifestyle is one that singer/songwriter, Vicky Emerson, knows very well.
Vicky has been touring as an independent artist for the past five years and has arrived, safe and sound, with an incredible collection of songs in an album appropriately titled, “Long Ride.” Listeners will hear a shift sonically in Emerson’s music from her previous self-titled album which had more traditional country nuances. Influenced by the grit and gravel of Lucinda Williams, the wry wit of Lyle Lovett, the deeply personal lyrics of Patty Griffin and vocal styling’s of Shawn Colvin, Emerson has indeed shaped her own brand of Americana music on “Long Ride.”
Emerson, who is a classically trained pianist, surprisingly wrote many of the songs on her Seagull guitar. “My songwriting is evolving in a way that makes me understand some of the hardships and obstacles I’ve overcome. In my younger years, I made some bad choices. I hurt people and people hurt me. When I was going this time in my life, I found it nearly impossible to write about what I was feeling. I did not fully comprehend the emotional impact of the situation or life lessons I would fortunately come to learn. After the dust settled, I was able to revisit those memories and discover the universal truth living inside those experiences. I pick up the guitar and call it “Going to the well.” The last two years, I found myself unafraid to go to the well, throw down the bucket and see what it would carry up to me.”
Indeed the well was a plentiful place for Vicky as demonstrated in songs like ‘County Line’ where she explores the traveling musician’s constant struggle to balance a career and a family. The title track, ‘Long Ride,’ is a beautiful road-weary song that could sway folks to ditch the daily grind and become a roadie. ‘Ferris Wheel’ is a touching song dedicated to her father, where she longs for the innocence that can only be experienced in childhood. The gem on the record is ‘Into the Woods,’ a 7 minute and 19 second exquisitely haunting song about confronting insecurities.
The album was produced and engineered by Matt Patrick (Greycoats, Elizabeth Hunnicutt) in June 2009 at Patrick’s Minneapolis studio, The Library. “Long Ride” was recorded in a live setting with the help of Minneapolis based musicians: Steve Goold (drums), Aaron Fabbrini (bass), Tyler Burkum (Mat Kearney) on guitar and also Matt Patrick (multi-instrumentalist), who played a myriad of instruments and provided background vocals. “On my first visit to The Library, I knew immediately this studio was the place to bring this album to life. The volumes upon volumes of books, the grand piano and the genius of Matt’s creative spirit and nurturing personality convinced me he could help me realize my vision for this project.” Sharing similar musical influences and creative processes, Patrick and Emerson developed an instant kinship.
Matt Patrick agreed saying, “I had the distinct pleasure of working with Vicky on her Long Ride album. She possesses all the elements it takes to create a beautiful recording; great skills in the art of song crafting, a competent knowledge of music, a great work ethic, the appreciation and understanding of music as an art-form, she is a skilled player of piano, guitar and voice and in my experience, the most important factor in the artist/producer relationship, Vicky Emerson is a really likeable person. Long Ride will go down in my memory as one of my all-time-favorite album productions.”
Many independent artists are seeking new and creative ways to help produce their records and cover the costs associated with production, duplication, and promotion. As Vicky began the process of piecing together “Long Ride,” she received many, many emails from her fans offering encouragement and offers of assistance. As she considered how people could ‘help,’ she was inspired to create a CD Sponsorship Campaign. Contributors can become a Groupie, Roadie or a part of the Entourage with a donation and in return receive benefits, including acoustic cuts of “Long Ride”, DVD performances and acknowledgment in every copy of “Long Ride.” Vicky’s loyal fan base reacted enthusiastically and through their support she has been able to continue with each step of production.
Emerson currently lives in San Francisco but was raised outside the small village of Elmwood, Wisconsin (self-proclaimed UFO capital of the world.) “There is no doubt that the juxtaposition of growing up on a rural farm and now living in a heavily populated cities like New York and San Francisco have influenced my music and songwriting. I’ve found myself becoming an urban cowgirl and I believe I’ve been able to combine both of those worlds to coexists peacefully inside my songs.”