Friday, November 17, 2006
CD Review: Emily Elbert’s Bright Side
The problem with reviewing 17-year-old singer/song-writer Emily Elbert’s debut album, Bright Side, is that there aren’t enough suitable adjectives in the English language to describe her talent.
The problem with reviewing 17-year-old singer/song-writer Emily Elbert’s debut album, Bright Side, is that there aren’t enough suitable adjectives in the English language to describe her talent (y mi Espanol no es bueno). What comes to mind are obvious words such as "electrifying," "arresting," "heavenly," "breathtaking," "hypnotizing," and "serene." This being said, I will humbly attempt to put into words the sheer awesomeness (yeah, ‘awesome’ is the best I can do) which coats every word that floats from this University of North Texas student’s lips.
Hearing Emily Elbert sing for the first time gives rise to a sequence of emotions very similar to the Five Stages of Grief.
First. there’s DENIAL: symptoms include confusion and disbelief that such a powerful and mature voice could come from anyone younger than thirty years old—especially someone so petite.
Second, there’s ANGER: symptoms include discomfort and jealously; your own personal lack of talent, in the face of Emily, makes you hate yourself.
Third is BARGAINING: symptoms include lying to yourself or playing rationalizing games in your head in an attempt to reassert your questionable worth; having recognized Emily’s talent, you might mutter things like "well, at least I can . . . write pretty good . . . and I drive a . . . decent car . . ."
Fourth, there’s DEPRESSION: symptoms include not wanting to live any longer.
Fifth is ACCEPTANCE: where you decide, for whatever reason, to continue clinging to your graceless existence, knowing full well you’re not worthy enough to shine Emily’s shoes, though she doesn’t seem to wear them too often.
All hyperbole aside, Bright Side is a fresh and powerfully-positive, eleven-track album that focuses heavily on Nature. While spats with spouses are usually the main inspiration for singer/songwriters, Emily prefers to focus on, and sing the simple praises of, the great outdoors. In most of the assorted tracks, a few of which are titled "Stars," "Bluebird," "River," and so on, Emily sings cheerfully, sometimes hauntingly, about the beauty of the world and of immersing yourself in it. She describes walking shoeless in the woods, laying in the grass, and climbing trees—you know, those things we did when most of us were youthful, not dead inside, and there was no MySpace.
Picking the best and most emotive song out of this all-together amazing album is a toss-up between "Beautiful"—a soft, sultry, bongo-drum-peppered track wherein Emily’s shows the somber side of her predominately chipper sound—and "Garden of the Sun," a light-hearted melody characterized by the soft, elegant rhythm that flow from Emily’s acoustic guitar.
If an astonishing voice and complimentary instrumental skills aren’t enough for you (though they ought to be), Emily is also a competent and imaginative lyricist, as evidenced by "Garden of the Sun":
"Sing the songs of twilight as we cast away our troubles,
Our shadows are the echoes of today."
But what will set Emily Elbert apart from most artists is her age, which no doubt works in her favor; being a mere seventeen years old makes her considerable talent all the more rare. Not only that, but, on the whole, her youth imbues her sound and style. If she were any older, her subject matter, enthusiasm, insight, and voice would probably be different, less powerful, and less invigorating.