ALBUM REVIEW: EMILY HACKETT “BY THE SUN”
If we’re being frank, I don’t normally like country music. In fact, I was one of those bratty people that would list their favorite music as “anything but country,” for years and years.
I would only admit to liking just one of Shania Twain’s songs (I Feel Like A Woman) and I only knew it because I worked at a steakhouse that was Texas themed. To me, “Country music” — and yes I say that in quotes — had sort of a bad name when I was growing up, I thought it was for men with hats that were too big for their heads and jeans that were way too tight. I was wrong.
And when I listen to newcomer Emily Hackett’s new EP, By The Sun, I am proven more and more wrong every time I listen to any of her songs. The melodies are stellar, lyrics relatable, and her voice makes me feel like this might be Shania 2.0.
Her previously released singles, “Nostalgia” and “Good Intentions,” have that borderline pop-leaning thing that makes you want to listen to them over and over again. And songs like, “Waitress,” in which Emily sings, “I’d like to be that girl at 31 sipping on beer…I’m just a waitress,” could not possibly be more relatable for me — the girl who claimed to hate country music working as a waitress at a bar that only played country music.
Emily has been compared to the “one-name women of the Nineties” — meaning Faith, Trisha, and Shania — and chances are, if she keeps recording songs like she did on this EP, she’ll soon be one of those names for the current generation of pop-country greats.
How would you say you’ve grown since your last EP in 2015, to this new EP, By The Sun?
I’ve gone from just knowing what to say in my songs [to] how to say it, in terms of production. With the help of my Producer, Davis Naish, I finally feel like I’ve found the translation between what was in my head during the writing process to what I now hear coming out of the speakers.
With these five new songs, would you say there is any thru line? And if so, what are the themes that tie them together?
When we went into the studio last year we recorded a full length album; my self-titled, which were a lot of songs that had a life on stage for quite some time before they found their way to a record. It truly is me introducing myself. That being said, I wanted to deliver it to fans in a way where it was easy to consume, so I split it into two — the sun being the songs that take full and honest ownership of who I am and how you’d meet me on the street. They all encourage authenticity and staying true to yourself and what made you, including the times you have to laugh at yourself a bit. The next half will be a bit more vulnerable — where we’d go after a few glasses of wine.
Rolling Stone has compared your sound to the “one name country women of the nineties (Faith, Trisha, Shania)” — how does that make you feel? Do you feel like you have something to live up to now? Or does that sentiment inspire you?
That was such an honor to be set side by side with those strong, independent women. They really blazed some trails for us, especially Shania in terms of pushing the boundaries of her genre and the roles of females in general. That’s definitely something I relate to and can only aspire to do as well and as loudly as she did.
Do you write from personal experience? Or do you write from the perspective of putting yourself in others shoes?
I do both — sometimes within the same song. Like “Good Intentions” for example, is a little bit of mine and a lot of my friends’ stories mixed into one lyric. “Waitress” is all me, but let’s be honest, a huge percentage of people in this entertainment industry have worked in the service industry in order to chase the dream. I came home from a night at work that just wore me out to the point of needing to write about it. I took it to my co-writer the next day who, of course, had served for years and she said, “Girl, I’ve been waiting to write this song.”
With “Yours,” and “Waitress,” — these are the two songs that have not been released thus far, what are you excited about for everyone to hear these last two songs?
They feel like mini-movies to me. I love “Yours” because its confident in where the singer is in life, but ultimately still wants to be loved. I have several friends who feel like they can’t say that out loud sometimes because they’ll scare someone away, but everyone has that thought in the back of their mind, despite their freedom in the single life. Like Holly Golightly. “Waitress” is really my ode to all those servers out there, to be able to sing to something in the car when you can’t say it to a customer’s face. I also really hope people who have never served a day in their life hear it and maybe gain a little more respect for those whose job it is to keep you happy.
Of the five songs that make up the EP, do you have one that is your favorite? Or one that means something more to you?
I would be lying if I didn’t say “Josie” was my favorite — She has a voice of her own. The fans even named her. I played it at serval shows as “Never Been Kissed” but after each show, everyone would come up to me and say, “Oh, I love ‘Josie’!” So, that it became. She’s a letter to all young girls that nobody gets to tell you who you are and what your morals are. Stay true to your gut.
What are you planning next?
I’m thrilled to get this first half of the record out and start playing it in your cities. I’ve got a few hometown gigs coming up in Nashville and Atlanta. There will be more to come in the winter, so stay tuned.