Singer/songwriter Emily Earle has performed in all kinds of venues, from concert halls touring with her uncle, Steve Earle, to underground busking in the New York City subways, something she did after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The money from busking could be good — as much as $120 in an hour — but she got funny looks at the bank when she brought in all those dollar bills and explained she was performing for donations near Rockefeller Center. “They thought that was a form of stripping,” Earle said with a laugh. “They assumed I was a stripper.”
Earle also has done a handful of house concerts, and about four dozen area music fans will get a chance to experience an intimate showcase for Earle on Friday, May 5, as part of David Schipper’s Bluff View House Concerts series on the north side of Holmen.
“House concerts are kind of their own beast, where you can talk about why songs are there and how they came to be,” Earle said. “They’re just such unique experiences. The people who come to the shows to listen are usually pretty intense song people.”
Earle, who had a run on “The Voice” as part of CeeLo Green’s team, has been in Nashville since 2011. She has a publishing deal with Twisted Gringo Music, which gives her the chance to concentrate on songwriting a lot more than when she was trying to write songs as an independent. “The nice thing about having a publishing deal is there’s somebody else making those calls and booking those rights,” she said.
Often the songwriting is a collaborative effort, and Earle said the biggest thing to figure out is what her “role in the room” is supposed to be. Usually, the team songwriting process produces a finished song during a session, sometimes in very short order. For Earle, the quickest song was completed in a 15-minute session with Waylon Payne, who told her off the bat that he was a fast worker.
“And it was a good song, too,” she said.
She also has co-written a song, “Same Blood, Different Heart,” with Sam Gyllenhall, a member of the Gyllenhall acting clan.
The song that has taken the longest to complete — about a year — was one she started writing on the tour bus with her uncle and his wife, Allison Moorer. The germ of the song — “News From Colorado” — came from a series of calls Earle was getting from an old friend in Colorado, where she went to high school. The friend was going through some tough times, and Earle commented that “it’s never good when I see that 719,” the area code for her friend.
Earle worked on the song for several months with Moorer, Earle said, “then Steve came in and said, ‘I think this is good, but I think it could be great.’”
The extra work paid off. Earle’s version of the song was released as the title song of an EP, and she said her uncle also plans to include a version of it on an album of his own.
Earle’s recorded work so far has featured stripped-down, simple arrangements, but she said she recently finished recording six songs with Twisted Gringo Music owner Keith Gattis that are fleshed out with full-band instrumentation and sound like “Sheryl Crow meets Miranda Lambert meets Linda Ronstadt.” Gattis is a recording artist, producer, musician and songwriter who has written hit songs for Kenny Chesney and George Strait, and was band leader and lead guitarist for Dwight Yoakam for a time.
“We had a really cool group of players play on it and a bunch of awesome writers,” Earle said, noting that her new songs are all ready to go but a release date hasn’t been set yet, something that’s slightly frustrating. “There is definitely an impulse to want to get your music out. When you’re excited about something, you want to share it. I’ve definitely learned that there’s something about timing everything right, just so you give the songs their best shot.”