Heart Comma Heart
The color is back in Emily Easterly, and since she’s a true redhead with all that symbolizes (to me), that makes her smart, sexy, dramatic, sweetly feminine, and more.
Easterly’s last album, Seasons Never Change, was good, but it felt like a cry for help from the lowest ebb of her self-esteem. Heart Comma Heart, I’m happy to say, is a significant advance for the talented performer and songwriter. Between records Easterly moved from Florida to New York, and she sounds as though she’s luxuriating in her new surroundings.
The first time I wrote about Easterly, I compared her to “that shy girl in your high school class.” Fittingly, then, the song “Shy” here sounds like that girl coming out from the pillow fort in her bedroom, grasping the reins of her confidence.
Many of the rest follow suit, come to think of it. The album is straightforward indie with shades of country (esp. on “Maryland to Texas”), played mostly on electric guitar and drums. Some cool piano and other instruments get a look in occasionally.
On songs like “Shadows (Oh Honey),” Easterly’s lyrics have deepened (or at least, her meanings have become more apparent than on previous albums) without losing a romantic ease. The dreamy, sexually ambiguous “Holly” is a more-than-respectable slow dance song. Though Easterly has always been good on such softer-edged material, the Smiths-reminiscent “Shotgun Wedding” here is her most successful hard-hitting song yet.
“Every Heart” takes elements from the reflective title song that ends the album and feeds them into what most atypically, both for Easterly and this record, promises to turn into a fast dance song. Lasting just over a minute, it’s there and then it’s gone, but if you want my idea (and you are reading this, aren’t you?), I’d love to hear what somebody like Danjahandz could do stretching it out. I wouldn’t want them to turn Easterly into Britney Spears (among the many reasons why, she’s a much stronger artist… if that’s not damning with faint praise), but there’s a chance here for a remixed dance classic along the lines of what DNA did with Suzanne Vega.
Not that Ms. Easterly needs much added to her mix these days.