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Music Review: Emily Hurd – ‘Long Lost Ghosts’

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The latest album from Emily Hurd, the soulful, silver-voiced songstress from Chicago, ripples with insistent acoustic rhythms, rich piano atmospherics, artful lyrics, and melodies that are haunting and uplifting at the same time.

Photo by Nate Laffan

Photo by Nate Laffan

It’s all evident from the beginning. The title track combines evocative imagery with the theme of love, often from a startlingly positive point of view: “Now I’m on my way by Greyhound Bus/I have come for you because/I thought you were all there was/And you were.” Those lines encapsulate what’s so powerful about the 10-song disc as a whole: smart lyrics illustrating not just hope but sometimes fulfillment.

In “A Lot Like” Hurd sets hopeful lyrics among coruscating piano lines. In “My Favorite Part” she cleverly parallels the process of music and storytelling with the progress of love, culminating in an irresistible chorus that brings to mind, as do numerous moments on the album, the old glittery ring of Petula Clark more than they do anything from the more recent age of irony.

Each song is a shiny chip off a mysterious compound of intelligent thought and honest feeling, from the cautious love song “I Love You Too,” about skipping over the awkward beginnings of communication, to my favorite slow song of the set, “Irreparably Yours,” where Hurd sings a theatrical melody with a painfully sweet country-ish twang.

The theme of communication, evident in song titles like “Silent Conversations” and “I Won’t Tell a Soul,” wraps up with the final track, “Easy Call,” in which the singer piles on simile after simile in the service of the simple thought expressed in the title. Hurd recites the refrain with exquisite phrasing: “Anyone can call you baby/Anyone can call you doll/You’re the one that calls me crazy/And wants me through it all.” Give this album a listen – it’s an easy call.

Photo by Nate Laffan

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.