SingerSongwriter, Folk, Alternative, Acoustic, Indie Folk
Nick Drake, Iron and Wine, Donovan, Andrew Bird, Van Morrison
Steven Emerson - If you like @ironandwine & @andrewbird, you'll love @stevenemerson! http://bit.ly/w1Q3jL - #CyberPR
"On his new album, Set In Motion, (produced by Tori Amos bassist Jon Evans), Emerson dissolves his voice in a delicate wash of strings and understated female backing vocals that recalls the early 70’s soul of Al Green. It is Emerson’s voice that makes the music intimate and inescapable."
Silke Tudor, SF Weekly
"... mixes a cool jazz ambience with folk-flavored songs and a voice that is beautifully understated."
Larry Kelp, East Bay Express
"His songs are romantic, gentle in the way that Donovan’s ballads are, or – even more so – the late Nick Drake’s music, where the space around the notes is as important as the sound."
Larry Kelp, Arts Beat
"… makes his propitious solo debut with this collection of romantic yearnings and blue musings. … his mesmerizing voice melts into his melodies, creating a late night listening treasure."
Dan Oullette, Acoustic Guitar Magazine
"The best songwriters draw from a space that we all know but may not articulate so well. Steven Emerson has found that space and seems perfectly willing to share it."
Josh Levy, Bay Area Music
About Steven Emerson
THE 100 DAYS PROJECT:
With music that could be compared to Iron and Wine and Jack Johnson, Berkeley-based singer/songwriter, soundtrack composer, and filmmaker Steven Emerson has embarked on a unique online project to promote his upcoming album.
Emerson, who got his start with internationally renowned post-punk band True West in the '80s before beginning a solo career in New York, released his third record, Song Of Love, on April 10.
Leading up to the release he is launched his 100 Days project; every day for 100 days leading up to the album's release, Emerson rummages through his rucksack of memories to blog about specific, significant dates in his life, calling up vivid professional and personal experiences that include everything from touring with R.E.M. to asking his girlfriend to marry him.
Presented as a random kaleidoscope of memories in no particular order, they compose a fascinating portrait of one man's journey.
Steven Emerson is emerging from self-imposed obscurity with a creative resurgence that includes a new album, Song of Love, as well as the rebirth of a record he made some 20 years ago as part of New York City’s singer-songwriter scene. The Berkeley-based balladeer cites an inspiration: Leonard Cohen. “I had seen Leonard many years ago at Madison Square Garden,” Emerson says. “Seeing him again in 2010 just blew my mind. He gave with such a generosity, singing songs that brought people to tears and made them laugh. After spending years in meditation at a Buddhist monastery, he had come out a different person, with a deeper understanding of the world.”
Digging deeper is, in essence, a large part of Emerson’s own story.
He grew up in Davis, California, and picked up the acoustic guitar at the age of 12, learning first Donovan’s “Catch the Wind” and later, on his Silvertone electric, Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane.” However, in high school he switched to the drums and found an easier entry route into playing with rock bands.
After attending college in Santa Barbara, Emerson returned to his old stomping grounds and joined True West—filling the drummer seat at first, then switching back to guitar during his three years with the band. He appeared on their Drifters album as drummer, then played guitar and wrote tunes for True West’s swansong, Hand of Fate. “We toured the college circuit and caught the attention of R.E.M.’s Peter Buck when we played in Athens, Georgia,” Emerson says. “We ended up opening for their Fables of the Reconstruction tour.” During Emerson’s tenure with the band, True West were true road warriors, touring across 45 states and 12 countries.
After personnel changes led to the band’s demise, Emerson packed up and moved to New York City in 1988 to begin a new chapter in his musical pursuit. Inspired in particular by a show at St. John the Divine Cathedral featuring the then-unsigned Shawn Colvin, Emerson began to attend shows, work open-mic nights in Greenwich Village, and gradually make friends with other aspiring singer-songwriters. He eventually found himself in the inner circle of veteran NY troubadour Jack Hardy’s informal West Village song swaps, which had been a spawning ground for the likes of Colvin, John Gorka and Suzanne Vega.
“It was a temple for songwriting where people offered constructive criticism of the songs we each brought in,” says Emerson. “It was a time to get feedback, advice.” Around this time, Emerson won an ASCAP songwriting award and, inspired by Nick Drake’s instrumental choices, recorded a duo album with cellist Peter Lewy that the songwriter calls “the lost New York album.” It was never released, which is something Emerson plans to rectify soon. During his six years in New York, Emerson also wrote and directed a film (called Second Person, it was screened at the San Francisco Film Festival) and published a collection of poetry. But the grind of booking gigs and trying to make the next step began to weigh on him. In 1994, he and his fiancée moved to Berkeley. “Things we're happening for me in New York", Emerson says, "but it always felt like a struggle." Berkeley offered another new start.
The next year Emerson released his first solo album, Until, featuring a cast of local jazz noteworthies. The CD received favorable press, locally and nationally—in East Bay Express: “Emerson mixes a cool jazz ambience with folk-flavored songs and a voice that is beautifully understated” and in Acoustic Guitar: a CD of “romantic yearnings and blue musing” that makes for “a late-night listening treasure.”
Moving from intimate confines to nightclubs in San Francisco, including Bruno’s and Café du Nord, Emerson began to explore playing with a host of musicians including bassist Lee Alexander (best known for his long stint with Norah Jones), drummer Andy Borger (Tom Waits, Norah Jones), saxophonist Dave Ellis (Charlie Hunter), and trumpeter Erik Jekabson (John Mayer).
This gigging led to Emerson’s 2000 CD, Set in Motion, a blend of ‘60s cool jazz and ‘70s soul that received plaudits, including: “in a delicate wash of strings and understated female backing vocals that recalls the early ‘70s soul of Al Green…it is Emerson’s voice that makes the music intimate and inescapable.”
After building a home recording studio, he began concentrating on other musical outlets, including studio work and film scoring. Since then, however, he’s been busy amassing a stockpile of songs that will comprise his third album, Song of Love, set for a 2012 release. In the time between Set in Motion and the new record, Emerson’s also been raising two children and has found inspiration in watching them grow. This process became a part of the new songs, which come from a family man who has a very different definition of what success really means.
THE 100 DAYS PROJECT:
Berkeley-based singer/songwriter, soundtrack composer, and filmmaker Steven Emerson is embarking on a unique online project in promotion of his upcoming album. Emerson, who got his start with internationally renowned post-punk band True West in the '80s before beginning a solo career in New York and eventually cutting two albums under his own name, released his third record, Song Of Love, on April 10. Leading up that event, his website, www.StevenEmerson.com, is hosting the artist's 100 Days project; every day for 100 days leading up to the album's release, Emerson rummages through his rucksack of memories to blog about specific, significant dates in his life, calling up vivid professional and personal experiences that include everything from touring with R.E.M. to asking his girlfriend to marry him. Presented as a random kaleidoscope of memories in no particular order, they'd make for a fascinating portrait of one man's journey even if Emerson's exceptional artistry wasn't the project's impetus.