seasons never change
This is a terribly sad album. I mean that as a good thing, but if I knew Emily Easterly, I’d be e-mailing or calling her to ask, “Hey…you okay?” Shyly sung in her fluttery voice, it is a collection of nine songs inspired (it says here) by the Virginia native’s four year stay in Miami, Florida.
But if you’ll forgive a critic’s presumption, what it is “really” about is the feeling that time is passing while you yourself are not moving forward. In the last song, simply titled “Miami,” she sings over and over and over, “Sometimes I can’t tell what day it is,” and I know, or at least I think I know, that this is about more than just a phenomenon of the weather.
I’m afraid this review is going to come off sounding all kinds of paternalistic, but that’s the buttons it’s activating in me. Some of it is the front cover photo. Easterly is already a striking looking woman with red hair, green eyes and pale skin. “Palest of all pale,” according to one song. The front cover, for which I could not find a credit, accentuates this with the kind of picture where the eyes keep looking right at you. And in my case, saying, “Why haven’t you reviewed me yet?”
But a lot of it is her. Accompanying herself alone on guitars and keyboards, which is more effective than the fuller band sound of her previous CD, Cole, Ms. Easterly sounds like a strange combination of fragility and strength. When she sings, “Come color me how you want, I am the palest of all pale,” it’s impossible not to think you’re seeing an x-ray of someone’s self-esteem at its lowest ebb.
Yet, the very act of making music about that feeling is, I believe, the act that strengthens, dare I say redeems, us. And Easterly may be playing dress-up here, but I don’t think so.
She is so close to being so good. This album is an advance over Cole, with further developed lyrics and a setting more appropriate to her voice and songs. But it is not yet a breakthrough.
Here’s a pixel’s worth of free advice, which is worth exactly what you pay for it: I would like to hear what she would do turning someone else’s story or stories to music, in the theater idiom or even on — gasp — a concept album. I may be totally off-base with that, but I think the result could be a satisfying stretch for Ms. Easterly, who is talent on the rise and needs — if I may say so — a few new vistas.
Emily Easterly: www.emilyeasterly.com