Young and Anointed by Bill Murray
Discussing the strangeness of Bill Murray’s casting process may seem an odd topic for a review of the up-and-coming Emily Hearn’s new record, Hourglass, but hear it out. This is a significant connection. Emily Hearn managed to get Bill Murray on the set of one of her music videos. This little coup is significant if you are familiar with his legendarily difficult-to-get quality. As the stories go, he acts as his own agent, and anybody who wants him must go through the process of calling his private number, which itself is difficult to find. He is also highly selective, so they say. So, it follows that to get Bill Murray to be in a project of any type, is to have been given the nod of coolness or quality (Garfield: The Movie notwithstanding). Well, Emily Hearn, only 24 years old, has already managed to get Bill Murray in one of her videos, and that was before she released her latest record.
Hearn has been labeled a country singer, lived through a Kickstarter campaign and taken the leap of faith into marriage at a young age, and she has now made a record that seems poised for the spotlight. While the music on Hourglass in no way feels like country music, or even alt country for that matter, and while the theme of time seems like an interesting choice for someone so young, the songs she writes are still quite beautiful. “The Oak Tree” and “Volcano” are two songs evoking the forces of nature as metaphors for both youthfulness and strength in the former, and the fizzling out of romance in the latter, “like a volcano…gone cold.”
Hearn hails from a pedigreed place in the annals of music. Athens, Georgia is famous for its music scene and has been home to numerous successful bands and musicians including R.E.M., the B-52’s, and the Indigo Girls to name a few. Some of that southern feel crept into her previous work on songs like “Found a Heart” which contains a hint of Hearn’s southern twang. “Rooftop,” the song that drew Bill Murray into a music video, featured mandolin and had hints of the country flavor that earned Hearn that label. But these songs are not to be found here. Now the music is inherently pop; but well-written pop. The album opener “Waking Up Again” starts with some delicate guitar strumming and a lilting rhythm put to lyrics about getting positive and opening yourself up to life. The song builds with the introduction of glockenspiel and crescendos with strings and layered harmonies. “Without You” is another song with a bouncing rhythm and glockenspiel that is fairly infectious on the first listen.
Hearn is off to a good start, but she will have to quickly figure out who she is and what she is going for with her music. Those seeking out a new take on country may be disappointed by this record. But perhaps the point is that Hearn does not want to be pinned down to one kind of sound. But being a relative unknown, she may want to give people something to lock on to, or maybe people should simply take a cue from Bill Murray and appreciate Emily Hearn for herself.