Emma Hill,
The Black & Wretched Blue
(Kuskokwim, 2013)

Alaska isn't a place that usually comes to mind when I think of music. This latest release by Emma Hill convinces me to change that opinion.

Music doesn't necessarily relate to a place so much as it does to the musician, after all.

And Hill isn't some bucolic newcomer. Though she grew up and lived much of her life in a village with a population of fewer than a hundred people, she's become a seasoned performer who returned to her home state after making a name for herself touring across the U.S., in Europe and even a few months in Costa Rica.

With her musical partner Bryan Daste and a solid back-up team, she offers 14 tracks hard to narrow down to a handful of favorites. From the toe-tapping "Fallin for a Girl" to the poignant "For Jimbo" and the nostalgic "Call on Home," there are a lot of winners here.

With a sure delivery and a voice like pure honey, I found myself comparing her to Gillian Welch on several tracks. But Hill is an artist in her own right, offering a collection of touching songs with moving, original lyrics.

Hill is featured on lead vocals and guitar. Daste joins in on vocals, guitar, banjo, bass, saw, harmonium and a variety of other instruments. Back up is by Aarun Carter, fiddle; Corwyn Wilkey, trumpet; Christian McKee, mandolin; Andrew Nelson and Adam Mack, drums; Mont Chris Hubbard, piano and organ; Eric Tergerson, violin and viola, and Jessie Dettwiler, cello.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
John Lindermuth

27 July 2013

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